100 scientists try to find solutions to the banana virus in Mozambique – Savana

A hundred scientists from Europe, Asia and Africa are attending an International Banana Conference in Maputo in the search of a way to eradicate the banana disease blighting Mozambique.

The country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) presented figures yesterday (Thursday 21/11) indicating that, in Mozambique, the banana is one of the most important sources of food, income and foreign exchange. The country has approximately 70,000 hectares under bananas, an industry that employs about 8,000 people.

According to Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Higino Francisco de Marrule, the banana industry generates around US$40 million annually in Mozambique. The goal is to increase revenue by increasing production from 70,000 to 100,000 hectares per year, but the country faces a major hurdle which is unexpectedly decimating the plant.

The disease affects plants in the south and north of the country. In the south, the banana tree is infected by the banana bunchy top disease  (BBTV). This disease has been identified in Gaza province and is already attacking plants in Maputo province. In the north of the country, Panama disease predominates, particularly in Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces.

This scenario has forced the government to seek external support in an attempt to stem the diseases, and it is in this context that the just over 100 researchers from Africa, America, Asia and Europe have been in Maputo since Tuesday. At the two-day meeting, the group intends to study ways of eradicating the disease by looking at the experiences of other countries which have faced the same situation.

“We want to take measures to contain the disease, or perhaps even find a mechanism for its eradication. It is expected that this meeting will result in applicable proposals because together we can make a difference to fight the disease,” Higino de Marrule said in his opening address.

The meeting brings together researchers from Belgium, Turkey, India, China, Burundi, South Africa, Cameroon and a Mozambican team from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) and the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM).



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