25 December 2012

Tanzania: Arusha to Host Plant Viral Disease Meet

Photo: Mauricio Ramos/IPS

Dar es Salaam — Scientists from across the world will gather in Arusha, Tanzania, for the 12TH International Plant Virus Epidemiology (IPVE) symposium to draw strategy on how to tackle virus diseases.

According to statement from the International Institute of Agriculture (IITA) availed to East African Business Week in Dar es Salaam last week, the global conference will be held between January 28 and 1 February 2013.

IITA said that 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.

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

Dr Sanginga Nteranya, the Director General of IITA, one of the co-organizers of the workshop said that this is the first time the meeting is taking place in Africa.

Nteranya said the significance of holding the meeting 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 that are rapidly spreading to new areas, he said, adding that these include the deadly cassava brown streak, banana bunchy top disease, rice yellow mottle, and maize streak virus, among others."

He added; "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."

They are least able to invest in inputs such as pesticides and herbicides and improved disease-resistant varieties," he said. "We need science-based solutions to these challenges."

Dr Lava Kumar, IITA Virologist and Head of Germplasm Health Unit, explains 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 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 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 Center, and West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF)(spell out) 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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