‘MUSA’ Microbial Uptakes for Sustainable management of major bananA pests and diseases.

This is a 4-year project with partners from Europe (Italy (coordinator), Spain, Belgium, UK), The Caribbean (Costa Rica and Cuba) and SSA (Kenya and Ethiopia). Its focus is on endophytes and biocontrol agents (EBCAs) against key banana pests. icipe will be involved in the screening of EBCAs against the burrowing nematode (Radopholus), the lesion nematode (Pratylenchus) and the banana weevil (Cosmopolitis sordidus). All these pests feed on and damage roots of banana, weakening the plant causing toppling even in the lightest winds. icipe and partners will also produce knowledge on the biology and ecology of the beneficial organisms (entomopathogenic nematodes, entomopathogenic fungi and antagonists) and the pests (parasitic nematodes and banana weevil) in the region (SSA). Furthermore, once promising EBCAs have been identified their mass-production will be evaluated in collaboration with RealIPM and validated through field assays in the region.

The project is of great value as these key pests of banana (Musa spp) globally affect food security, causing yearly crop losses in Canary Islands, Caribbean and Africa. In SSA millions of farmers rely on cooking banana, plantain and ensete as starch staple food crops and for income. Pesticides no longer represent a sustainable option for control, and many have been progressively withdrawn from use in the EU or are highly restricted, due to harmful effects on the environment and toxic residues. In SSA, where phytosanitary policies and regulations are often less effective, such pesticides are still being (mis)used, posing a significant threat to vulnerable farmers and consumers.

Main Collaborators

  • IITA
  • Real IPM

Funded by EU H2020, 218,000 USD over 5 years (June 2017 – 2021).