The BBTV ALLIANCE team rendezvous in Nigeria

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Multidisciplinary team of experts meet in IITA, Nigeria, to take stock and discuss plans to stop the further spread of banana bunchy top disease debilitating banana production in sub-Saharan Africa

The International Institute of Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan is hosting the 3rd Annual Workshop of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) Learning ALLIANCE, 23–28 May 2016.

The workshop “Recovering banana production in BBTD affected areas – strengthening cross-site learning tools in epidemiology, gender and social relations and participatory experimentation approaches” will be held at the Herbert Albrecht Conference Center of IITA and brings together implementing partners of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) from IITA, Bioversity International, and CIRAD. National program partners involved in banana production recovery pilot schemes in Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Malawi, and Nigeria will also be in attendance.

During the six-day conference, participants will deliberate on several topics related to the ALLIANCE’s campaign against Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) including an assessment of project progress, a review of pending activities, and devising effective plans for advancing the campaign in 2017 and beyond.

The focus of discussions at the conference will be on (i) reviewing experiences to date in pilot sites and identifying key elements in mobilizing communities and their partners for the recovery of banana production in BBTD-affected areas as a basis to (i) develop guidelines for integrated management of BBTD; (ii) prepare workplans for finalization of products for the RTB complementary project on BBTD; (iii) discuss epidemiological modeling and particularly the protocols for compatible sampling; and (iv)  discuss and review projects and proposals for the next phase.

“We hope that this workshop, the third of a successful series, will form a platform for interdisciplinary experts to come together for exciting presentations and fruitful discussions,” says event convener and IITA Virologist Dr Lava Kumar. “This is a crucial workshop as the ALLIANCE project has entered into its final year, which is also a transition year for migration into new RTB programs starting 2017”, he added. “Reflections on past activities and preparation of technical reports, and planning for the future are going to be one of the main agendas of this workshop,” concluded Dr Kumar who is convening the workshop with Dr Charles Staver of Bioversity International. He also thanked the CRP on RTB for financial support to the workshop.

The conference will also witness the unveiling of a new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded initiative “BBTV mitigation: Community management in Nigeria and screening wild banana progenitors for resistance”. The initiative will be launched formally on 27 May and will be led by the University of Queensland (Australia) in collaboration with IITA, Bioversity International, National Institute of Horticultural Research (NIHORT) Nigeria,
University of Agriculture Kétou (UAK) Bénin, and other partners.

Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) is an invasive virus disease seriously threatening banana and plantain production in Africa. The ‘ALLIANCE’ is a multinational, multi-stakeholder, interdisciplinary team formed under the framework of the CGIAR Roots, Tubers and Banana (CRP-RTB) program, to mount a coordinated action to halt the expansion of banana bunchy top (BBTV) disease and recover banana production in disease-affected areas, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. BBTV renders plants unproductive, eventually killing them. The virus occurrence is confirmed in 15 countries in Africa. With the exception of Egypt, all other countries affected by BBTV are located in sub-Saharan Africa. Extensive disease spread into new production areas was observed during the last two decades. Since 2011, BBTV outbreaks were recorded in Benin (2011), Nigeria (2013), and most recently (2015) in South Africa.

For further information about the workshop, contact: Katherine Lopez [], IITA Head of Communication

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