Tanzania hosts plant viral disease conference

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Scientists from across the world will gather in Arusha, Tanzania, for the 12th International Plant Virus Epidemiology symposium next year.

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, a statement from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture on Friday indicated.

This is the first time the meeting is taking place in Africa—a continent that is plagued by plant viruses of key staple crops, driven by a climate that is getting warmer, it added.

The statement quoted the Director General, IITA, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, as saying that plant viruses were spreading rapidly to new places, frustrating efforts to boost the food security and livelihoods of millions of people.

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

The forum is scheduled between January 28 and February 1 2013

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 to attend the event.

The meeting will be co-organised by IITA, CGIAR, Bioversity, Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute in Tanzania, the National Agricultural Research Organization of Uganda, AVRDC—The World Vegetable Centre, and West and Central African Council for Agriculture Research and Development under the auspices of the International Committee on Plant Virus Epidemiology.

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. The IPVE Committee has previously conducted 11 international symposia in different parts of the world.

In a related development, some school children between the ages of three and 12 years from the Ibadan International School have raised about N350,000 ($2,000) to support the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s Forest Project. The donation is part of the school’s efforts towards supporting good causes in the society.

“This donation is to support the Forest Project for the positive impact on the lives of the children,” the Primary Years Programme Coordinator at IIS, Mrs. Helen Chatburn-Ojehomon, said.

The IITA Forest Project has over the years provided children and teachers with the opportunity to learn about forest conservation, biodiversity, and the negative effects of deforestation.

Located on about 350 hectares in Ibadan, the IITA Forest Reserve is one of the few surviving and best protected secondary forests in western Nigeria with more than 230 different types of butterflies.

It also plays host to 250 different species of birds, and over 450 plant species, most of which have medicinal uses.

Chatburn-Ojehomon explained that funds for the donation were raised by the children through the MathBuster Challenge—a sponsored educational program that encourages learning and enjoyment of mathematics.

Funds raised from the sponsorship go into charity, and sponsors could be friends, parents, and relatives.


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