Joint comprehensive strategies to combat banana bunchy top outbreak in East Africa

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The invasion of banana bunchy top virus (BBTV), the causal agent of the lethal bunchy top disease of banana and plantain, threatens Africa’s most crucial banana production region in East Africa. The virus spread, confirmed in the 2020s in Tanzania and Uganda, is expanding fast. For instance, the delimitation survey undertaken with the support of the USAID and CGIAR Plant Health Initiative in 2023 revealed BBTV occurrence in seven of Tanzania’s ten major banana production regions.

Crop cultural practices, mainly the exchange of planting materials within the region, contribute to the virus’s rapid spread. In addition, the ubiquitous banana aphid, Pentalonia nigronervosa, is also contributing to the spread of the virus. There is a concern that without strong counteraction, the virus would spread widely in East Africa, home to about 40% of the total banana and plantain production and a vital source of food, income, and jobs.

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