Banana bunchy top disease (BBTD), a viral disease, has a severe impact on banana production and on the livelihoods of many small-scale farmers in Africa. To proactively manage this disease, it is important to map the proneness of African banana production zones to disease establishment and spread.
By using a statistical method called logistic regression, researchers studied the relationship between field observations from various BBTD surveys and environmental maps. This helped them determine the environmental conditions suitable for the spread of BBTD across the African landscape.
With the help of expert knowledge, they created maps highlighting the main areas where banana production is at risk of BBTD entry and establishment. By combining these maps, they generated a priority map (title image) that identifies the areas requiring the most attention in combating BBTD through routine surveillance and preventive measures.
The analysis revealed that BBTD is widespread across tropical Africa, with multiple hotspots of dispersal. Central and Western Africa are particularly favorable for the development of BBTD. Specific areas in West and Central Africa, the Great Lakes Region in Eastern Africa, and countries like Malawi and Mozambique in South-East Africa scored high on the prioritization index for surveillance and mitigation efforts. Recent first reports of BBTD in northwestern Uganda and western Tanzania support these predictions of risk.
Containment and mitigation efforts are crucial in disease affected areas to revive production and prevent further spread, while proactive surveillance and training/knowledge sharing is key in disease-free regions to prevent pathogen entry or initial spread.
Hein Bouwmeester, Guy Blomme, Aman Bonaventure Omondi and Walter Ocimati published this study in Plant Pathology:
TITLE IMAGE: Risk map for Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) across Africa: Map of priority areas for future surveillance and mitigation efforts against banana bunchy top disease (BBTD) of Musa. Areas were calculated as the sum of the environmental suitability for possible wider spread of BBTD and the risk of entry and initial establishment of BBTD. A photograph of a Banana plant showing symptoms of bunchy top disease. All images used with permission of the author.