The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is reaching out to donor agencies in a bid to help Tanzania fight a devastating banana disease. In December 2021, FoodForAfrika.com reported that agricultural specialists had sounded a warning after DNA samples from banana trees in the Buhigwe district, Kigoma, were confirmed to be positive for the Babuvirus (BBTV).
“BBTV or Babuvirus is considered among the most devastating banana viral diseases,” the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) said in a statement, at the time.
Now, the IITA is asking donor agencies to provide support to small-scale farmers in the Kigoma region. The funds will be used to trace the disease’s progress across the country in order to make control efforts easier. Experts will also be trusted to develop biosecurity and control tactics that are appropriate for smaller farmers.
“In addition we are liaising with our offices in Central Africa who have experience working on this disease,” the IITA said, as reported by The Citizen.
Babuvirus is one of the most deadly banana viral illnesses, capable of wiping out 90% of plant yields. Pentalonia nigronervosa, a common banana aphid (insect), is the main carrier of the virus.
Farmers spread it further by exchanging contaminated planting material.
Despite the fact that the illness was initially discovered in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1950s, it is the first time it has been found in the East African region. Although no assessment has yet been conducted to determine the disease’s spread outside of Kigoma, the research organisation argues that BBTV demands “strict quarantine measures”.
If left uncontrolled, banana output might be cut by 100%, rendering farmers in the affected areas unable to produce bananas, according to ScienceDirect.