Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

19 December 2012

Tanzania: Scientists to Discuss Plant Diseases in Arusha

SCIENTISTS from across the world will next month gather in Arusha for the 12th International Plant Virus Epidemiology (IPVE) symposium.

The meeting will provide researchers a platform to share the latest knowledge, brainstorm and draw a road map to contain the spread of plant virus diseases.

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

This is the first time the meeting is taking place in Africa. Dr Sanginga Nteranya, the Director General of the International Institute of Agriculture (IITA), one of the co-organizers of the workshop, noted the significance of holding the meeting in Africa where plant viruses of key staple crops are spreading rapidly, frustrating efforts to boost the food security.

"Africa is currently struggling with a wave of viral diseases among its key staple food crops that are rapidly spreading to new areas. These include the deadly cassava brown streak, banana bunchy top disease, rice yellow mottle, and maize streak virus, among others.

"Poor small-holder farmers--who are majority of the population and of the food growers, with their limited resources are bearing the brunt of these virus diseases," said Dr Nteranya. According to him, farmers are least able to invest in inputs such as pesticides and herbicides and improved disease-resistant varieties, therefore the need to have sciencebased solutions to the challenges.

Dr Lava Kumar, IITA Virologist and Head of Germplasm Health Unit, said that that 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 noted.

Dr Kumar added that 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, which is located between Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru in Arusha, Tanzania; and is about 40 minutes' drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport.

The meeting will be co-organized by 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 (CORAF).

The organizers will operate under the auspices of the International Committee on Plant Virus Epidemiology (ICPVE). In the past, the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, France, Italy, Israel, Spain, Peru, Germany, and India played host to IPVE meetings.

The IPVE is a specialist committee on plant virus epidemiology of the International Society of Plant Pathology (ISPP). The IPVE Committee has previously conducted 11 international symposia in different parts of the world.

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