Scientists have after several years of research discovered a new method of fighting one of the devastating pests in bananas-called nematodes.
After several years of research, scientists have discovered a new method of fighting one of the devastating pests in bananas-called nematodes.
Nematodes are probably the most severe pest of banana, affect both dessert and cooking varieties. They infest the root of the plant, interfering with the uptake of nutrients, water and reducing their productivity.
Bananas affected by nematode pests easily fall with the slightest wind because of weakened roots infested by the nematodes.
Research from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the University of Leeds were able to use a gene from maize stem to develop a protein that kills the nematodes in bananas.
Dr Leena Tripathi, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s biotechnologist and one of the researchers in the study said the study is a breakthrough in their effort to protect banana as a third staple food crop in Africa.
Dr. Andrew Kiggundu a Biotechnologist at National Agricultural Research Laboratories Kawanda said research has shown that in East African, nematodes can reduce yields by 50 per cent or more.
Dr. Kiggundu says unlike the banana bacterial wilt disease, a farmer cannot easily identify nematodes because they can only be seen through a microscope.
Professor Altus Viljoen from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, explains what farmers can do to ensure nematode-free planting material.
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Bananas that have shown resistance to nematode attacks will be further evaluated in a confined field trial in Uganda once National Biosafety Authority grants permission.
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international institute of tropical agriculture