TANZANIA – After a comprehensive survey, the Tanzania Plants Health and Pesticides Authority (TPHPA) has reported that maize grain seeds from Tanzania are safe from transmitting viruses causing Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND).

TPHPA is the National Plant Protection Organization established under the Ministry of Agriculture by the Plant Health Act No.4 of 2020.

The agency is responsible for pesticide control, phytosanitary measures, and prevention of pest introduction and spread.

Professor Joseph Ndunguru, Director General of TPHPA revealed this by presenting a report, noting that a comprehensive survey was conducted in different zones in Tanzania, showing no sign of the virus causing MLND.

“A comprehensive survey of MLND was conducted in the Lake Zone (Mwanza, Kagera, Shinyanga, Mara), Northern Zone (Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Arusha) Southern Highlands Zone (Ruvuma, Njombe, Iringa, Rukwa and Katavi), Central zone (Dodoma and Singida), Western Zone (Tabora) and the Eastern Zone (Tanga and Morogoro),” said Prof Ndunguru.

He said that MLND of maize (Zea mays L) is caused by a combination of Maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) and any of the cereal viruses in the Potyviridae group including Sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV), Maize dwarf mosaic virus (MDMV), Maize mosaic virus (MMV) and Wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV).

The laboratory analysis of the samples did not detect any of the viruses from the maize grains as well as the field samples from the major maize-producing regions in Tanzania,” he added.

The report comes after TPHPA, in December 2023, imposed import bans on soybeans and maize seeds from Malawi after a Pest Risk Analysis conducted to update the phytosanitary import requirements of produce from Malawi revealed potential threats to Tanzania’s agricultural produce.

According to Professor Ndunguru’s statement, the analyses identified the presence of the Tobacco Ringspot Virus (TRSV), a disease known to cause severe damage to soybean crops, in Malawi.

The virus is known to cause substantial damage to soybean crops, resulting in yield reductions and economic losses ranging from 25% to 100% for farmers, according to the statement.

In response, Professor Ndunguru said the ban was extended to transit shipments and aims to safeguard the rapidly growing soybean subsector in Tanzania, protecting local farmers from potential economic losses and preventing the introduction and spread of the virus.

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