Strengthening value-chain actors for sustainable management of banana xanthomonas wilt in East and Central Africa

Published on 1 January 2010

Research Areas


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Start Date: 1 June 2008 | End Date: 1 May 2013


Xanthomonas wilt (Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum (BXW)) has continued to threaten banana production in East Africa, endangering the livelihoods of millions of poor, small-holder farmers.  Previous efforts to control the disease have been only partly successful. Current control strategies are facing major challenges including the inability to detect latent infection (in planting material and other banana products); the user-unfriendliness of some recommendations such as flame and chemical decontamination of implements; lack of genotypes resistant to the disease; and lack of coherent institutional frameworks for organizing and mobilizing stakeholder partnerships within and between countries, to exploit stakeholders’ synergies at local, national and regional levels.

This work, funded by the McKnight Foundation is elucidating the vector-disease-host plant relationships in order to understand the survival strategies of the disease under a range of environments; developing appropriate technologies to curb long distance disease transmission and arrest intra-farm disease transmission; conducting multi-location evaluation of germplasm linked to clean seed production systems and grass-roots  platforms; and establishing the environmental effects of control measures on soil fauna and flora and soil conservation. Disease surveillance approaches linked to GIS, and feeding into strategies for raising public awareness, will strengthen the frameworks for mobilizing and empowering banana-chain actors to own the BXW problem and adopt approaches that will deliver quality bananas and banana products to the market. Institutional frameworks (quarantine, bye-laws) exploiting trans-boundary synergies and cooperation against the disease will be strengthened. The project will develop tools/technologies, methods and approaches to address the challenges above and test and validate them through linkages within the banana chains. Participatory planning and execution of agreed priorities will strengthen the ownership of project outputs. Information collected will be packaged into policy briefs targeting local and national policy makers to assist in decision making and resource allocation. Stakeholders will benefit from new tools and technologies and enhanced capacities for managing diseases, and from better quality raw materials and steadier markets.

Overall goal: to strengthen East-African food and income security. Immediate objective: to mitigate Xanthomonas wilt (BXW) threats to banana production through: developing and validating management strategies and piloting the best-bet options to increase their adoption by stakeholder-platforms along the production-consumption continuum; preparing new knowledge and lessons into policy briefs to inform policy processes locally and nationally; using information obtained to revise the current public awareness tools, including BXW web sites and the banana Xanthomonas wilt Diagnostic and Management Guide. At the regional level, the information and technologies will be disseminated through bi-annual regional meetings like the BARNESA where both Kenya and Uganda are members. It is estimated that messages will reach over 200,000 farmers during the project period. A participatory monitoring and learning approach will ensure timely activities and shared learning.

During these first months: a planning workshop was held; benchmark sites were selected, based on developed selection criteria; baseline survey tools were developed, tested and adapted; studies on vector-disease-host plant relationships and the development of a Xanthomonas wilt (Xw) detection tool have been designed for implementation; and work continues in developing methods for decontaminating field tools and in germplasm evaluation. In developing or improving access to Xw management information / messages, 4700 posters and 1500 brochures were translated into different local languages, to be imminently distributed, and a public awareness workshop was organized in each of the benchmark sites.

Regarding project monitoring, a planning workshop was held in February 2010 which reviewed the work, and clarified roles and responsibilities. This was followed by site-visits and workshops to engage the communities battling the Xw disease on-farm. A review workshop was held in September to discuss Year 1 implementation and plans for 2011. In addition, the integrated monitoring and evaluation plan was discussed. In our innovative learning and experimentation approach for farmers (LEAFF) participatory approach, learning remains reciprocal between project scientists and farmers.

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