|Authors: ||I. Macharia, A.M. Kagundu, E.W. Kimani, W. Otieno|
|Keywords: ||certification, Kenya, Musa, tissue culture|
Kenya has experienced a decline in banana (Musa spp.) production during the last two decades.
This can be attributed mainly to an increase in the prevalence of pests and diseases due to the limited practice of effective control.
The main pests and diseases of concern are Fusarium wilt (caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense), black leaf streak and Sigatoka leaf spot (caused by Mycosphaerella fijiensis and Mycosphaerella musicola, respectively), banana Xanthomonas wilt (Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum), the banana weevil Cosmopolites sordidus, and the burrowing nematode (Radopholus similis). Since neither a formal system nor standards exist to regulate planting material quality, farmers frequently plant untreated, thus potentially infested sword suckers, aggravating the problem.
There is a need to develop standards and codes of practice that will ensure access to certified healthy planting materials of improved banana germplasm.
Micro-propagation (tissue culture) has gained popularity for rapid production of clean banana planting material.
However, updated standards and codes of practice are needed to guide the application of this method to ensure good quality.
Similarly, the capacity to use tissue culture to generate clean planting material must be developed in tandem with a virus indexing mechanisms for such material, as well as imported material, to monitor and restrict the movement of viruses.
Rapid detection of pests and diseases during import inspections and certification of nursery-propagated materials is essential for the prevention of the introduction, and spread of pests and diseases of quarantine importance.
The development of rapid and inexpensive diagnostic kits will facilitate quick decision-making.
In this regard, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the regulatory agency responsible for seed and plant material quality and plant quarantine, continues to be a key partner in initiatives to multiply, exchange, distribute, import and export banana propagation material.
This paper provides an overview of the regulatory measures necessary for sustainable development of the banana subsector of horticulture in Kenya.
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