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Focus on... Plant disease

Fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes, and phytoplasmas are the cause of a wide range of major diseases, affecting the world's most important food crops. New diseases, as well as changes in existing pathogens, continue to threaten the livelihoods of farmers worldwide. Controlling diseases has invariably relied on cultural control and, where farmers can afford it and have available inputs, chemicals or disease-resistant varieties are used. But development of new and innovative ways to control plant diseases remains a constant challenge for plant scientists, particularly as disease-causing organisms have an aptitude for spreading to new areas and even new hosts.

In this edition of New Agriculturist we focus on some of the latest approaches to controlling plant disease, from understanding plant genetics to providing the basic principles of plant pathology to help extension advisors give better advice to farmers.

Uganda's war on wilt

Uganda's war on wilt

Banana Bacterial wilt is spread by insect vectors, by browsing livestock and by human activity, and has a devastating impact, making bananas inedible and ultimately killing the plant. A national task force has been spreading information to farmers about control strategies, with support from the Global Plant Clinic.

Date published: September 2005

Information: key in the fight against blight

Information: key in the fight against blight

Exchange of knowledge and information is an important weapon in the fight against potato late blight, so that farmers are aware of the control options available to them and can optimise their use.

Date published: September 2005

The plant detectives: a clinical approach to plant disease

The plant detectives: a clinical approach to plant disease

Recognising and interpreting plant disease symptoms is something in which extension officers rarely have much training. While a two-day course cannot produce a team of plant pathologists, it can instil the basic skills needed to be a plant detective.

Date published: September 2005

Cassava mosaic: a new threat to Burundi's emerging peace

Cassava mosaic: a new threat to Burundi's emerging peace

Whilst peace has been restored in Burundi after the success of recent multi-party elections, a new danger in the form of cassava mosaic disease threatens the livelihoods of farmers around Bujumbura. A countrywide management programme is working to mitigate the effects of the spreading epidemic.

Date published: September 2005

CMD: a blessing in disguise for Nigeria?

CMD: a blessing in disguise for Nigeria?

As cassava mosaic disease heads towards Nigeria, a pre-emptive management project to protect the crop against the disease is proving successful and is also contributing to the expansion of cassava-based industry.

Date published: September 2005

Grass stunt draws a crowd

Grass stunt draws a crowd

With the rapid expansion of zero-grazing in East Africa, cultivation of Napier grass has dramatically increased. But in the last few years, the fodder crop has been affected by disease. Identification and distribution of resistant varieties is now a priority for research.

Date published: September 2005

Taking out the blast

Taking out the blast

Rice blast fungus is the most deadly pathogen of rice. However, efforts to control rice blast fungus have led scientists to discover the biochemical pathways that could prevent blast infestation.

Date published: September 2005

Disease recognition and control in DRC

Disease recognition and control in DRC

North Kivu is the agricultural breadbasket of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but unknown plant diseases are having a serious impact on production of cinchona, coffee and papaya.

Date published: September 2005

 

 

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