Theme 3. Managing priority pests and diseases

Pests and diseases can reduce yields and even wipe out RTB crops, both in the field and post-harvest. Pests and diseases of RTB crops include some of the most devastating biotic agents known, including diseases such as the viruses of cassava that threaten food security in parts of Eastern and Central Africa and the potato late blight disease, which causes annual losses estimated at $12 billion in developing countries.
Reduced productivity exacerbates inefficient use of soil and water resources. The use of pesticides can lead to pest resistance and carry heavy costs in terms of economics, human health, and environmental degradation.

With agricultural intensification and the effects of climate change, the threats of pests and diseases are likely to grow.

Theme 3 aims to generate knowledge and novel technologies, build communities‐of‐practice, and

strengthen capacities that will better enable farmers to manage RTB pest and disease problems.

Product portfolios for this theme will focus on:

  • Detection, surveillance, and mapping
  • Ecology, biology, and epidemiology of pests and diseases
  • Ecology and management of beneficial organisms
  • Specific management strategies

Vegetatively propagated crops have similar disease issues. For example, viruses are transmitted in similar ways either via vegetative seed or vectors such as whiteflies or aphids, which are common across crops. This limits rapid exchange and dissemination of planting material of improved varieties, and reduces the quality of farmer‐produced seed. Therefore, exploiting the synergies among Centers will help develop common and more efficient vector control strategies as well as effective low‐cost virus (and other pathogens) detection methods for use across RTB for screening in breeding and seed programs. Better standardization of resistance phenotyping (measuring and describing resistance) will improve efficiency of selection for new resistant varieties.

The figure below shows the impact pathways envisaged for Theme 3.