May 2016. A reappearance of banana bunchy top virus disease in both Upolu and Savaii islands. The disease also infects the misiluki variety as well as Cavendish. The concern is that a large consignment of the Williams (Cavendish) variety) has been imported from Australia and is now in a nursery. Do members have any suggestions / recommendations the management of banana bunchy top disease?
It was suggested that the control practices outlined in the SPC leaflet on the disease be followed: (i) carry out a public awareness campaign that requests people to cooperate by removing the diseased plants, which are presently everywhere on both islands. They are in back gardens, in fields, along the side of roads, and at agricultural stations. There is a another fact sheet on the disease in the app Pacific Pests and Pathogens for mobile devices, and for computers – www.pestnet.org.
Another useful resource is http://abgc.org.au/projects-resources/industry-projects/banana-bunchy-top-virus/.
A farmer in Samoa was of the opinion that the disease was never properly controlled in Samoa. There are laws concerning removal as soon as it is seen, but they are ignored.
The experience of Tonga suggests that Samoa will have a difficult time managing the disease. The incidence of banana bunchy top was high in Tonga due to poor implementation of control measures. Exports stopped in the early 1990s and today there is hardly any commercial bananas production. Bananas are grown in traditional mix-cropping stands which have led to very low incidence of bunchy top virus. (Attached is an article about BLS and bunchy top and the demise of the banana industry and agrodeforestation in Tonga.)
That the disease can be suppressed effectively using cultural measures in islands situations. About 10 years ago, there was a survey of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). CNMI had had a long history of bunchy top disease prior to that time. But the survey found that bunchy top symptoms were present in just a few places on Saipan, only once seen on Tinian, and they could not be found at all on Rota. This low incidence was the result of a successful public awareness campaign, aimed at backyard and commercial growers implemented by Extension Agents of the Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service.