GHANA – The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission’s (GAEC) Biotechnology Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute (BNARI) claims that it is prepared to fight the Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) should it ever reach the nation.
One of the most severe banana diseases, BBTD, also affects plantains and is brought on by the Banana Bunchy Top Virus. It causes havoc worldwide and causes significant economic losses.
According to reports, the illness is endemic in East Africa and is already spreading to Ghana from Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, and Togo.
Dr. Andrew Sarkodie Appiah, the Manager of the BNARI Biotechnology Center, revealed this in a conversation with representatives of the GAEC Commercialization and Communication Directorate.
If the disease were to be discovered in the nation, he pointed out that the Commission has technology like tissue culture and mutation breeding to help manage it in the short and long terms, respectively.
Dr. Appiah, a Plant Virologist as well, claimed that the illness was discovered in Togo in 2018 and that, despite reports suggesting that it had been contained and prevented from spreading outside of Togo, there was a chance that it might still be present along the country’s Eastern borders.
“Therefore, a thorough investigation must be carried out as soon as possible along the border communities to ensure that it has not entered the country, and then the necessary steps can be taken to either prevent it from crossing the borders or apply the technologies required to produce new plants free from the disease,” he added.
According to Dr. Appiah, once the plants were infected, the disease took a very long time to manifest itself, posing a threat to the economy as a whole as well as the banana and plantain businesses.
He added that the disease was transmitted by the banana aphid and that it may enter the nation through transboundary trade.
“With the current economic crisis, it will be a double jeopardy, if this disease gains access to the country, and if steps are not taken quickly to produce disease-free plants.
“Bear in mind that plantains in particular are one of the main staple foods in the country, and Ghana is the largest producer of plantains in West Africa and the second in Africa,” he said.
Uganda is currently undertaking a survey to determine how widely BBTV has spread in the country since its detection in 2020.
Last year, Tanzania’s agricultural scientists discovered the disease for the very first time after DNA samples from the Buhigwe district in the Kigoma region tested positive.