Improvement of Banana for Resistance to Banana Bacterial Wilt Disease in Africa

Bananas and plantains are an important food source for over 100 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the east African highlands and most of the Great Lakes region, bananas are a major staple food and a source of income for over 50 million smallholder farmers. East Africa produces 16.4 million metric tonnes per year – about 20% of the world output. However, many biotic and abiotic factors greatly reduce productivity for banana cultivated under traditional African farming systems. For instance, in 2001, an outbreak of banana bacterial wilt (caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv musacearum) broke out in Uganda leaving in its wake a trail of crop destruction and utter misery among aff ected farms. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) estimates economic loss due to diseases in Uganda alone to be at a staggering US$ 200 million. AATF is collaborating in a public/private sector partnership project to develop Banana Bacterial Wilt-resistant transgenic bananas from east African preferred germplasm.

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