19 December 2012

Tanzania: Conference to Strategise Against Virus Diseases

SCIENTISTS from across the world will gather in Arusha next month for the 12th International Plant Virus Epidemiology (IPVE) symposium that will provide researchers with a platform to share the latest knowledge in the field.

The delegates will use the symposium scheduled for January 28 through February 1, 2013 to brainstorm and draw a road map to contain the spread of plant virus diseases.

The conference whose theme is "Evolution, Ecology and Control of Plant Viruses," is coming at a time when the battle against plant virus diseases is becoming more complex, with the need for food security demanding more global attention.

The Director General of the International Institute of Agriculture (IITA), Dr Sanginga Nteranya, one of the co-organisers of the workshop, said the conference is for the first time being held in Africa where plant viruses of key staple crops, driven by a climate that is getting warmer, are spreading rapidly to new places, frustrating efforts to boost the food security and livelihoods of millions of people.

"Africa is currently struggling with a wave of viral diseases among its key staple food crops...the common diseases include the deadly cassava brown streak, banana bunchy top disease, rice yellow mottle, and maize streak virus," Dr Nteranya was quoted in an IITA statement in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

Dr Lava Kumar, IITA Virologist and Head of Germplasm Health Unit, said the symposium will focus on and examine the emergence, epidemiology and control of native and new virus diseases. "Researchers will reflect on the prevailing situation of virus diseases in Africa and around the world that are not only ravaging crop production but also affecting the international exchange of germplasm and commerce," he said.

According to him, the symposium will provide a forum for exchange of latest knowledge and technologies to control virus diseases and pave the way for an African and global strategy to combat emerging and re-emerging plant virus diseases.

Renowned virologists from over 40 countries are going to attend this event. The symposium will take place at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, located between Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru in Arusha, some 40-minute drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport.

IITA, Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute in Tanzania, the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) of Uganda, AVRDC--The World Vegetable Centre, and West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development are co-organising the symposium under the auspices of the International Committee on Plant Virus Epidemiology (ICPVE).

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