Sustainable Management of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt in Banana Cropping Systems in East and Central Africa

Published on 22 June 2010

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Start Date: 4 August 2009 | End Date: 30 June 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 third sub-grant is supported by USAID and World Bank 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.


The inception meeting was successfully conducted in Kigali, the project monitoring and evaluation tool was designed and revised, and the existing Banana Xanthomonas Wilt diagnostic management guide wasthoroughly reviewed. We have also: initiated the proposed Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW)-systemicity studies and the participatory monitoring and learning process; conducted a review workshop; further revised our BXW diagnostic management guide, processed and printed the project posters and brochures, and participated in the project.

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