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Plant pathology activities supported by CIALCA
Beed, Fen D.
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The request for this training was initiated by L’Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi(ISABU), who invited IITA to provide tuition and materials for the production and use of semiselectivemedia for banana Xanthomonas wilt (*see box below). ISABU wanted to create the capacity toindependently diagnose and culture BXW from diseased banana plant samples.IITA were already working on BXW in Burundi under the Crop Crisis Control (C3P) projectmanaged by Catholic Relief Service (CRS). IITA and CRS liaised closely to develop a regionaltraining course, so that participants from Rwanda and DRC could also learn new techniques, whileencouraging greater coordination in the future. The original request for training was broadenedextensively to include new methods for surveillance and vigilance of all banana diseases.The course was attended by 11 participants from extension and research, Universities and IRAZ, aregional organisation. The trainers were Fen Beed and Komi Fiaboe (IITA), Eric Boa of the GlobalPlant Clinic (CABI) and Julian Smith (CSL), combining expertise in research, surveillance, vigilanceand diagnostics for plant diseases. All trainers are closely involved with BXW in East Africa.The training consisted of presentations, group discussions and practical demonstrations.Participants saw how to make the semi-selective medium for BXW and isolate bacteria. Theypracticed field and laboratory diagnostic techniques and carrying out participatory plant diseasesurveys, a new method tried here for the first time. They learnt how to use FTA cards to collectDNA samples from the field for laboratory analysis. FTA cards can be safely transported and sentoutside the country without the risk of spreading the disease. A prototype rapid serologicaldiagnostic test for BXW (lateral flow device or LFD) was demonstrated in the field and lab.Participants discussed how to quantify disease incidence and severity and learnt how to use GPSequipment and characterise field sites. The participatory disease surveys in Rugombo and Gitundahelped to pinpoint areas where more intensive assessments of BXW incidence and severity mightbe carried out. They also revealed how growers interpret symptoms and hence report potential newdiseases.The presentations described current knowledge of BXW and related advances in laboratorydiagnostics. The importance of publishing New Disease Reports was emphasised and the purposeof Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) explained in relation to BXW and other key diseases. Participantsreceived a comprehensive list of reference and lab materials which will assist in detection andcontrol of BXW and other banana diseases. Course feedback was positive and encouraging.Participants were asked to consider how they would use their new knowledge and methods afterthe course had ended and link more closely with national and regional partners.A proposal for further work is included in this report. A follow-on intensive programme oftraining, surveys and clinics seeks to reduce current threats to agricultural productivity through earlydetection of and timely advice on plant diseases. A practical blend of good science, effectivesurveillance and proven advisory services will strengthen the joint contributions of extension andresearch to increase food security, income generation and improved trade. The proposal highlightsfurther support required from national and regional organisations, as well as governments anddonors. These include local training for field and lab diagnostic techniques and expansion of theparticipatory disease surveys and strengthening of disease vigilance through the establishment of(mobile) plant health clinics.