IITA Intensifies Awareness On Banana Disease
TOWARDS stemming the tide of the ravaging Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) prevalent in Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), held a one-day Awareness and Launching of the ‘Stop Bunchy Top’ workshop and campaign in Abeokuta, the state capital, to stop the spread of the disease.
The disease, first discovered in Nigeria, in Odologun community, in Yewa South council area in 2012 by IITA in collaboration with University of Ibadan and Nigerian Agriculture Quarantine Service (NAQS), has reportedly spread to Ado-Odo/Ota, Yewa North, Imeko-Afon and Abeokuta North council areas. It has also been recorded in Ibarapa zone of Oyo state.
BBTD is caused by a virus named ‘Banana bunchy top virus’ (BBTV). Virus spreads into new fields along with the infected planting materials (suckers, corms or tissue culture plants) and also through an insect vector, banana aphid (Pentalonia nigronervosa), which is widespread in all the banana and plantain-producing areas in Nigeria and many parts of the world.
Virus infection results in dwarfing, narrow leaf, chlorosis of leaf margins and discontinuous dark-green streaks on leaves, petioles and pseudostems. The leaves of infected plants become progressively smaller and stand more erect giving the plant a bunchy appearance.
Plants infected early in their growth do not produce fruits resulting in total loss of yield, whilst plants infected at later stages may produce normal or deformed fruits. The plant may eventually die, but often remains with its lateral shoots, which serve as a source of infection.
The leader of the team, Dr. Lava Kumar said the Institute had been able to identified the vector responsible for the BBTD, but yet to find a permanent vaccine. “For now, what we have is the preventive approach, which is being accepted by the farmers.”
According to him, since the disease migrated from Benin Republic into Idologun community, the institute has been able to provide new BBTD-free suckers for the farmers in the area. “For now, prevention is the best option for BBTD control, which includes avoiding importing or moving planting materials from regions in which BBTD is known and using only healthy planting materials.”
The Baale (Community Leader) of Idologun community, Chief Alade Fashina said the intervention of the Institute had saved the plantain farmers from total extinction.
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