Experts converge in Ibadan to discuss solution to banana disease


The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, is leading a team of multidisciplinary experts towards addressing the spread of banana bunchy top disease, debilitating banana production in sub-Saharan Africa.
This is contained in a statement by the IITA Head of Communication, Mrs Katherine Lopez, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Wednesday.
The statement said the workshop of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) Learning ALLIANCE would end on May 28.
``The workshop is tagged Recovering banana production in BBTD affected areas – strengthening cross-site learning tools in epidemiology, gender and social relations and participatory experimentation approaches.
``It brings together implementing partners of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) from IITA, Bioversity International, and CIRAD.
``National programme partners involved in banana production recovery pilot schemes in Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville,

“Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Malawi, and Nigeria will also be in attendance,” it said.
The statement said participants would deliberate on several topics related to the ALLIANCE’s campaign against the banana disease.
It said the participants would also assess the project progress, a review of pending activities, and devising effective plans for advancing the campaign in 2017 and beyond.
``The focus of discussions at the conference will be on reviewing experiences to date in pilot sites and identifying key elements in mobilising communities and their partners for the recovery of banana production in affected areas.
``This is a crucial workshop as the ALLIANCE project has entered into its final year, which is also a transition year for migration into new RTB programmes starting 2017,” it said.
According to the statement, the conference would also witness the unveiling of a new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded initiative
``BBTV mitigation: Community management in Nigeria and screening wild banana progenitors for resistance”
``The initiative will be launched formally on May 27 and will be led by the University of Queensland (Australia) in collaboration with IITA and partners,” it said.
NAN reports that BBTV is an invasive virus disease seriously threatening banana and plantain production in Africa.
The `ALLIANCE’ is a multinational, multi-stakeholder, interdisciplinary team formed under the framework of the CGIAR Roots, Tubers and Banana (CRP-RTB) program, to halt the expansion of banana BBTV.
They also work to recover banana production in disease-affected areas, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

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