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An online presentation by Dr Lava Kumar entitled “Controlling Transboundary Spread of Vector-Borne Viruses in Africa: Banana Bunchy Top Virus Case Study” is now available to watch on the CONNECTED Vimeo channel.

Dr Kumar is a Head of Virology and Molecular Diagnostics Unit/Germplasm Health Unit at the Headquarters of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria. He has over 25 years of experience in the application of integrated approaches to control plant virus diseases.

In the presentation, which formed part of the August 2021 CONNECTED Online Seminar, Dr Kumar explained the variety of molecular tools being used to monitor the spread of Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) and the wide range of disease management strategies being employed. Different approaches are required in infected and non-infected areas.

BBTV is particularly challenging because BBTV infected plants do not look sick so farmers are reluctant to remove infected plant material because they believe the plants will bear fruit.

Dr Kumar shared details of a successful BBTV detection, eradication and monitoring program in Togo. He stressed the need to tackle plant health problems collectively and the importance of community engagement.

In the Q&A session there was discussion around how BBTV is managed in other countries, for example in South Africa and Australia. The discussion  also included observations from our facilitator, Dr Sylvester Dickson Baguma, about banana plants near his home in Uganda, which do not look healthy. He asked if this could be due to a mineral deficiency or BBTV, and agreed to pass on photographs of the plants to Dr Kumar for assessment.

CONNECTED network members can watch Dr Kumar’s presentation using this link. You will need to be logged in as a CONNECTED member on the device you are using.