Main content area

The International Plant Diagnostic Network (IPDN) in Africa: Improving Capacity for Diagnosing Diseases of Banana (Musa spp.) and Other African Crops

Miller, S.A., Kinyua, Z.M., Beed, F., Harmon, C.L., Xin, J., Vergot, P., Momol, T., Gilbertson, R., Garcia, L.
Acta horticulturae 2010 no.879 pp. 341-347
Food and Agriculture Organization, Musa, Xanthomonas, bananas, collaborative management, communications technology, control methods, cooperative research, crops, early development, education programs, equipment, image analysis, information management, integrated pest management, plant pathology, plant pests, plant protection, polymerase chain reaction, research support, wilting, Benin, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, United States
Bananas (Musa spp.) are subject to a number of diseases that are difficult to diagnose early in development when control measures are most likely to be successful. Rapidly spreading new diseases, such as Xanthomonas wilt present unique diagnostic challenges. Surveys conducted in East and West Africa documented the lack of sufficient equipment, supplies, reference materials and training in the majority of plant pathology laboratories charged with disease diagnoses. To begin to address these issues, the International Plant Diagnostic Network (IPDN) was established in East and West Africa in 2006, through the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program (IPM CRSP). The IPDN is a diagnostic, communication and data network, modeled in part on the United States National Plant Diagnostic Network. Software for digital imaging and diagnosis and information management provides a platform for enhanced diagnosis and communication amongst clinicians and their clientele. Improved diagnostics tools and protocols were also developed and tested, including a PCR assay for Xanthomonas wilt. Training programs were conducted in Benin in 2006, Kenya and the United States of America in 2007, and Uganda and Mali in 2008, to enhance technical capacity amongst diagnosticians in East and West Africa. Initiatives such as IPDN can benefit by collaboration with other similar internet-based initiatives in Africa. One such activity is the East Africa Phytosanitary Information Committee (EAPIC). EAPIC is linked to the Food and Agricultural Organization’s International Plant Portal to provide the official national plant protection organization posting of plant pests for each respective country, which now includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The plant pest list will serve as a foundation from which to develop harmonized border inspection protocols, which in turn support capacity building efforts in plant pest survey, identification and communication systems, such as IPDN.