TANZANIA – 23 districts in 10 banana-producing regions in Tanzania have been quarantined to combat the outbreak of the destructive Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) infection.

According to Tanzanian Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe, the BBTV virus was detected after conducting a delimiting survey in 15 out of 31 banana-cultivating regions.

Among the regions under quarantine are Kilimanjaro, which has two districts under quarantine, Dodoma with one district, Morogoro with one district, Coast with one district, and Dar es Salaam with two districts.

Other regions include Kigoma with four districts, Katavi with three districts, Mbeya with four districts, Mwanza with three districts, and Geita with two districts.

Speaking about the government’s decision to quarantine the districts, Bashe stated that the study was initiated by his ministry to assess the extent of the disease in banana plantations.

“Currently, Tari is collaborating with IITA to map areas infected with the disease,” he stated. “Infected plants will be uprooted and replaced with new seedlings for permanent control of the disease.”

BBTV, as recorded in the report, is an aphid-transmitted viral disease that was first reported in Buhingwe District, Kigoma Region in 2021.

The disease manifestation is characterized by stunted and bunchy growth, shortened petioles with chlorotic streaks, and yellow leaf margins, accompanied by reduced yield.

The key findings of the study reveal that, out of the regions surveyed, Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) was found to be very severe in the Msaranga Ward in Moshi District, where entire banana fields were completely wiped out.

The document further revealed that the widespread of the disease in Dar es Salaam is because many banana farmers in the region obtain their cultivars from rural homes, thereby increasing the risk of virus transmission.

The outbreak of BBTV has compelled many farmers to replace their banana plantations with sugarcane, vegetables, and other crops.

One of the study’s recommendations to combat the outbreak is to raise awareness among government officials or ministries, who can then allocate resources to eliminate it.

Another recommendation is to establish a banana seed system that will ensure the production and supply of clean planting materials to banana farmers, thereby preventing the spread of planting materials from unverified sources.

“More surveys are needed, especially in new areas, to delineate infected from uninfected areas and implement zoning to prevent the spread of disease,” states the document.

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