Journal Article

The potential impact of banana Xanthomonas wilt on food systems in Africa: modeling scenarios of policy response and disease control measures

Banana Xanthomonas wilt (BXW) is one of the most important diseases threatening banana production in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA). In this study, we examine the potential impacts of BXW on banana production, demand, and food security in SSA, if the disease spread across all banana-producing countries in the region. The analysis is based on a multidisciplinary approach that combines a mathematical model of field-level BXW spread over time with a dynamic global partial equilibrium economic model. Since BXW control relies exclusively on management, we analyze three scenarios of BXW spread that are constructed around assumptions about the level of policy response to the disease, and about how this response may affect the adoption of appropriate management practices by farmers to control BXW. Modeling results suggest that if the disease is left uncontrolled, banana production in SSA within 10 years can decrease by as much as 55%, compared to a BXW-free baseline scenario, resulting in economic losses of around 25 billion USD. At the same time, the population at risk of hunger in countries that highly depend on bananas as a staple food is projected to increase by more than 4.6%. Even a limited policy response to BXW can reduce infections and mitigate some of the production, economic, and food security consequences. BXW impacts are almost completely negated when farmers have good knowledge of the disease and fully adopt the appropriate management practices. This result highlights the need for policy frameworks which rely on sustained and coordinated efforts by public and private stakeholders, within and across SSA countries and at different geographical scales. It also aims to raise awareness and promote the adoption of such practices, while also considering local peculiarities and socioeconomic conditions.