Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW)

Lead Organization:

National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO)

Partner Organizations:

Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) - Kisii, Rural Energy & Food Security Organisation - REFSO, Bioversity International

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa


Uganda Kenya




Banana is important as staple food as well as relatively cheap and accessible source of vitamins and minerals in E/HAf. In Uganda, the starchy cooking banana (“matooke”) is a staple for much of the population, while desert bananas are widely produced and consumed throughout E/HAf.  Approximately a third of global banana production is grown in sub Saharan Africa where the crop provides more than 25% of food energy requirements for an estimated 70 million people. Furthermore, banana by-products (peels and pseudo stems) provide valuable livestock fodder, especially during the prolonged droughts that periodically affect the region.

Bacterial wilt is the major bottle neck for production of banana in East Africa. The disease damages the plant, threatening the livelihood of millions of people who depend on banana as a food and income source. The symptoms are commonly characterized by an initial wilting of the leaf apex, followed by yellowing and wilting of newly expanded leaves of the infected plant. Severe wilt causes total loss of the banana yield.

The current control strategy involves destruction of symptomatic banana plants.  A major limitation of this approach is that latent infection is not detected, so pre-symptomatic plants provide sources of infection.  Detection techniques would be very instrumental for devising effective control measures for the disease. The proposed project aims at developing an integrated and sustainable control measure of bacterial wilt through partnership between an international organization, two national research organizations, and associated regional partners, including NGOs, the national extension systems and a private tissue culture laboratory.

Grant Aims:

As a starchy staple corp, banana plays a key role in basic food security in Uganda. In Kenya, it is a fruit crop that is important for food and nutrional security.  From its inception, CCRP has tackled high-profile pest and disease constraints of selected staples and indigenous crops of local importance.  This project fits that profile, as the banana crops are fundamental to the cropping systems of focus in E/HAf.  Banana bacterial wilt is a threat to food security, nutrition and livelihoods in East Africa.  Bioversity has the capacity to coordinate a regional effort to improve the management of this disease. They will bring together a broad partnership that includes the national programs of both Kenya and Uganda, as well as reputable NGOs and a private company.

Outputs and Outcomes:

  1. Disease surveillance strategies linked to GIS will provide information on the current status of the disease and ensure that any new disease out breaks are promptly reported for urgent action.
  1. Diagnostics for early detection of bacterial wilt will be developed for effective management of BW.
  1. Information on integrated BW management appropriate for small scale farmers will be provided in the region using various media.
  1. Banana production in the region will be improved due to effective BW management through strengthening partnership and collective action.
  1. This collaborative arrangement would represent a powerful partnership to tackle this pernicious disease across two countries where bananas are exceptionally important for food and nutritional security.