Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa Commends Ghana for Improved Agric Policy

Francis Npong 
Dr. Tiemaoko Yo, the Chairman of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) has commended the government of Ghana for adopting innovative agricultural policy that enabled the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in hunger. “Ghana is ahead of UN deadline for the achievement of MDGs in Hunger after “.
Speaking during the open space side event on Monday to about 1,200 delegates including Ministers of agriculture, scientists bioscience technologists, researchers, farmers, extensionists, agricultural reporters, civil society organizations  from across Africa and the world in Accra, Dr. Yo said Ghana had demonstrated great leadership to the rest of Africa by adopting innovative ways to improve agricultural sector.
The 5 days conference which is organized by Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in collaboration with the Government of Ghana would discuss innovative ways to improving productivity and resilience in food production.
The forum is under the theme “Africa Feeding Africa through Agricultural Science and Innovation” would among other things discuss and propose how Africa could move from competition to collaboration as parts of efforts to finding lasting solution to low productivity in Africa.
 Vice President Hands Over 100 tractors to Northern Farmers
The chairman urged other African nations to follow Ghana’s example by committing themselves to innovative agricultural policy to improve food production. He said adopting innovative ways was the only means to boosting African agriculture and improving food security.
The Minister of Agriculture Mr. Clement Kofi Humadu urged African agricultural scientists and researchers to come out with a result oriented researches to improve low productivity in agricultural sector in Africa.
The minister observed that for Africa to improve and increase productivity there was the need for what he called specialize manpower training.  He said, Africa needs to modify systems and policies in agriculture to be able to meet the growing need for food. He urged the adaptation of value chain and private partnership approach to enhance agricultural commodities.

Banana Bunchy Top Virus Spreading in Nigeria

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732943595By: Francis Npong
Agricultural Research Scientists are battling yet with another challenging banana virus- Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTV ) said to be spreading across Africa.
The disease, according to scientists was spreading at alarming rate and needs to be curbed immediately before it causes havoc to banana plant in Africa.
In a statement issued by Dr. Lava Kumar, the virologist with the International Institute of Tropical  Agriulture (IITA) in Nigeria said the disease was devastating banana across West Africa with more farms in Nigeria—West Africa’s second largest producer of the crop. “If not checked the virus will devastate banana farms, and jeopardize the livelihoods of millions of farmers who earn their livelihoods from the crop”, he said.
Dr Kumar whose statement came after a visit to farms ravaged by the disease in Idiroko, a border town in Ogun State.
Mr. Charles Onyeani, Head of the Post-Entry Quarantine, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has warned against the movement of banana planting materials from infected areas to uninfected areas to check the spread of the disease.
First discovered in 2012 by IITA in collaboration with the University of Ibadan and the Nigerian Agriculture Quarantine Service (NAQS), the disease is now widespread in Ilashe, Odan-Itoro, Ido-Ologun, and Igbogila, in Ogun State.
“Systematic studies on yield losses have not been done but empirical observations indicate 50 to 90% loss in the affected region,” Dr Kumar added, stressing, “There is a severe shortage of clean planting material.
The urged urgent actions to prevent further spread and also help farmers in the affected areas.
” Nigeria produces 2.74 million tons of banana, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, making the crop one of the important staples in the country.
Devastation by BBTV on banana fields will have a negative impact on the country’s economy, and thwart efforts towards food security.
Caused by a virus called, Banana bunchy top virus, BBTD is a serious threat to banana in SSA. The disease has been recognized in 14 countries in Africa; 13 of these are in SSA which represents a combined banana production area of 2.28 million ha, contributing 19.75 million tons of fruit per annum (FAO 2011).
The disease is known to occur in all the major banana production regions in DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Zambia. Whereas, disease spread is limited to a few regions in Angola, Benin, Cameroon, and Nigeria.
BBTD was first reported from the continent in 1901, however extensive spread into new production areas were observed during the last two decades.
The disease has very recently invaded the BĂ©nin (first reported 2011) and Nigeria (first reported in 2013) in West Africa. “The virus is also spread through an insect, banana aphid (Pentalonia nigronervosa), which is widespread in all the banana and plantain-producing areas in Nigeria and many parts of the world, said Dr Rachid Hanna, entomologist at IITA.
Infected banana plants become progressively smaller and stand more erect giving the plant a bunchy appearance.
Plants infected early in their growth do not produce fruits resulting in total loss of yield, while plants infected at later stages may produce deformed fruits.
The plant may eventually die, but often remains with its lateral shoots which serve as a source of infection for further spread.
The spread of the disease into new areas can initially remain undetected, complicating timely eradication work and prevention of new outbreaks. Once the disease is present in a region, it is extremely difficult to eradicate.
No durable sources of resistance have yet been identified. Eradication of infected plants and planting healthy planting material is the best available solution.