Due to its clonal nature, banana is amongst the most disease and pest vulnerable of all agricultural crops. Plant resistance is the best means to control diseases and pests of banana, especially for smallholder farmers. The importance of Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense), Sigatoka diseases (Mycosphaerella musicola and M. fijiensis), nematodes (Radopholus similis, Helicotylenchus multicinctus, Meloidogyne spp., Pratylenchus coffeae and Pratylenchus goodeyi) and weevils (Cosmopolitus sordidus) at two breeding stations and five regional testing sites in Tanzania and Uganda are being determined by the collection, identification, and storage at Stellenbosch University and NARO and geographical mapping of the pathogens and pests. Molecular markers for rapid and accurate identification of Fusarium wilt and Sigatoka disease pathogens and methodologies to determine their fitness are being developed. EAHB and Mchare, as well as NARITA hybrids, are being screened for resistance to Fusarium wilt, Sigatoka diseases, nematodes and weevils in regional field evaluations in Tanzania (Arusha, Kagera, Mbeya) and in Uganda (Mbarara, Kawanda). To accelerate the breeding process, small plant screening and in vitro methods are being developed for Fusarium wilt, Mycosphaerella spp., nematodes and weevils. Results obtained with screening experiments will then be compared to those obtained during field screening. During the course of the project, laboratory and field staff will be trained in surveillance, resistance screening and pathogen/pest identification. The outcome is to significantly increase yields in Matooke and Mchare bananas through resistance to important diseases and pests.
ARI-Horti Tengeru, ARI_Maruku, ARI-Uyole/Mbeya, Tanzania
IITA, Tanzania, Uganda
Stellenbosch University, South Africa