To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

January 06, 2012

Scientists find desert cure for dates disease

by Toufik Bougaada

An Algerian research team said that four plants are effective against the fungus that causes Bayoud disease. The fungus, which spreads mostly through root contact, can currently only be tackled by isolating healthy palms from diseased counterparts. It has been termed a "plague to Saharan agriculture" by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The team, from B├ęchar University, tested extracts from the plants, which grow in the Algerian Sahara desert. People of south-west Algeria use the extracts as an antifungal traditional medicine.

The extracts successfully inhibited growth of Fusarium oxysporum forma specialis albedinis (FOA), which causes Bayoud disease.

The team, led by Abdelkrim Cheriti, director of the university's Phytochemistry and Organic Synthesis Laboratory (POSL), announced its results at a press conference last month (11 November) and says it has a paper in press.

Cheriti pointed out that most desert plants produce substances that help them adapt to their environments and fend off diseases.

"We had the idea of using such metabolites, found in plants that grow in the same environment as the date palms and are able to resist Bayoud, to create an effective treatment for date palms," he told SciDev.Net.

A field trial of the treatment began in October in south-west Algeria and results are expected within three years.

"Bayoud inflicts serious damage on the production of dates in Algeria and North Africa, it has nearly wiped out many of the best strains of the tree that yield high quality dates," Ben Aichi Bachir, professor of economics at University of Mohamed Khidar Biskra, in Algeria, told SciDev.Net.

He added that "the new natural treatment, if approved after large-scale experiment, could help increase production of dates in the region, while decreasing their production costs". The new approach would be cheaper than current approaches to tackling the disease, he said.

But Nadia Bouguedoura, director of the laboratory of research in arid zones at Algeria's University of Sciences and Technology Houari Boumediene, cautioned that all new approaches to tackling Bayoud disease are still in the preliminary phase.

Bouguedoura said that the treatment is "a serious step on the road for finding a fundamental solution to the disease", but added that the research still "needs to be tested on the ground to confirm its results".

"Until it is approved, genetic control by breeding tree strains resistant to Bayoud disease remains the only valid way [of controlling the disease]," she said.

According to the FAO, the Arab states are the main producers and exporters of dates. Around 70 per cent of the 120 million date palm trees are found in Arab countries, with an annual production value of more than US$1 billion.

It says that "the disease continues to advance relentlessly to the east" and that "it will certainly pose serious problems of human, social and economic nature to other date-producing areas of the world".


Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by

Back to TOP