International, multi-stakeholder alliance continue to tackle banana bunchy top disease in Africa
Up to 16 African countries have now experienced the banana bunchy top disease (BBTD), caused by the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV), which threatens the livelihoods of 70 million vulnerable banana farmers. The virus is also endangering the diversity of banana varieties grown by these farmers. The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) is combating the virus through the Alliance for Banana Bunchy Top Disease Control in Africa.
The BBTD Alliance convened international, multi-stakeholder teams fostering cutting-edge research for development (R4D) to establish practical solutions so farmers can once again produce bananas for food and income. The Alliance has collaborated with national programs, building their capacity to detect, surveil, and control BBTD.
This disease stunts the plant, stopping fruit production, sometimes causing total crop loss in a single season. Farmers are advised to eliminate infected banana mats and replace them with healthy suckers. However, smallholders hesitate to destroy large parts of their banana gardens, especially if some of their plants still bear bunches.