Enhanced Management of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt for sustainable banana productivity in Eastern and Central Africa – USAID portion

Published on 22 June 2010

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Start Date: 1 July 2008 | End Date: 31 August 2011


Since the 1960s, Banana Xanthomonas wilt (BXW-Xanthomonas campestris pv musacearum) was known in Ethiopia as a disease of both bananas and ensete. By the early 2000s it had spread widely throughout East and Central Africa and was reportedly causing 80-100% damage especially in ABB banana-based cropping systems in Uganda and DR Congo.  Today BXW constitutes a major threat in a region where over 25 million people, largely peasants, depend on bananas, without which many countries in the region would have been net importers of food. 


In response to this threat, the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantains (INIBAP) (now part of Bioversity International), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) convened a regional stakeholders’ meeting (February 2005) to develop a mitigating strategy. This envisioned multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral approaches in a coherent regional response, taking into account the countries/regions that were Xanthomonas wilt-free but threatened; the frontline areas where the disease had just arrived; and the endemic areas where the disease was already established.  It also sought to raise the awareness of all stakeholders along the production-consumption chains by empowering them with knowledge and skills for the diagnosis and management of the disease.  Hence, awareness-raising and associated training were seen as an integral component of the intervention strategy to control the epidemic and restore productivity in the banana-based farming systems.


Arising from this,the BXW project is being implemented by Bioversity International/Banana Research Network for East and Southern Africa (BARNESA) through collaboration with the NARS and other stakeholders from Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania, and later on from DR Congo, Kenya and Uganda. It is being funded under three sub-grant agreements. This first (of three) sub-grant is supported by USAID funds through the staple crops programme of ASARECA.  During 2010, the ASARECA funding mechanism was realigned, and the grant manager has reduced the original scope of the work to align with significantly reduced funding.


In order to contribute to increased economic growth and improve livelihoods in ECA, while enhancing the quality of the environment, the overall goal of the project is to enhance sustainable productivity, added-value and competitiveness of the banana sub sector in ECA. This will enable a purpose of increased utilization of innovations for sustainable management of BXW in ECA. The project aims at achieving the following results:


  • Novel and efficient BXW management strategies generated
  • BXW management innovations refined, validated and scaled out with value chain actors
  • Capacity of value-chain actors mobilized and strengthened to manage BXW in ECA
  • New markets to accommodate increased post-BXW banana production to reduce poverty among the disadvantaged developed
  • Development and harmonization of cross–border supportive BXW management policies facilitated.

 For 2009:

In pre-inception stakeholder consultations, we identified the current BXW status; assessed local capacity; identified current players and their roles, and developed the programme for the subsequent project planning workshop. In this workshop we discussed country-specific activities, methods and approaches, partners and their roles, and the framework for data collection. This also enabled us to refine a previously developed BXW survey tool, to catalogue BXW control options and to identify effective communication tools. Coordination visits were also made.


For the first half of 2010:

  • Baseline surveys in all participating countries to assess disease distribution, incidence, as well as the current opportunities and constraints farmers are facing in the fight against the disease;
  • The development of a tool for establishing national level strategies or National Action Plans (NAPs) to mobilize resources and devise strategies for the management of the disease in each country;
  • Updating the BXW management guide to include the latest information on the disease management;

These results and progress will help partners to better plan and coordinate regional efforts to management the disease on farm and to strengthen their capacity to recognize and manage the disease more effectively, curtailing yield losses and improving household food security.  The results will also pave the way for on farm and on-station research to generate epidemiological information that will further strengthen the targeting and effectiveness of management strategies.

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