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Coffee Wilt Disease or Tracheomycosis

Diagnostic symptom of Coffee Wilt - blue-black staining in the vessels

Eastern and Central Africa is witnessing the re-emergence and spread of Coffee Wilt. This disease was first observed in 1927 in the Central African Republic on Coffea excelsa and the pathogen was identified in Zaire in 1948; the disease was successfully controlled in the 1940s and 1950s. Within the last six years it has increased its incidence considerably. Dr Julie Flood from CABI Bioscience carried out surveys of the status of coffee wilt in DRC and Uganda in 1996/97. Coffee is Uganda's premier export, accounting for up to 55% of the countries foreign exchange but 70% of the coffee growing areas are now affected by coffee wilt and production has declined from 4.4 million bags in 1996-97 to 3.6 million bags in 1997-98 (latest data available). The coffee industry in Uganda employs more than 2.5 million people and it has been estimated that coffee households are facing a reduction in third of their income due to this disease. Coffee wilt continues to cause severe damage to robusta coffee in DRC. The disease has also reported to be on the borders of Rwanda and Tanzania. If left unchecked, it poses a profound threat to coffee production throughout East Africa.

The biology of the causal agent (Gibberella xylarioides) is poorly understood. An international workshop lead by Dr Flood was held in Uganda in 1997, leading to the development of a regional project for research on the control of Tracheomycosis, involving DRC, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The project is being funded by the Common Fund for Commodities, with co-financing from the European Union, national programmes and bilateral agencies such as DFID (Department For International Development). It is being set up and co-ordinated by CABI Bioscience on behalf of the International Coffee Organization and Common Fund for Commodities. For further details on this project please click here.

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Contact CABI Commodities:
CABI Commodities Coffee Co-ordinator - Dr. Peter Baker - p.baker@cabi.org
CABI Commodities Cocoa Co-ordinator - Dr. J. Flood - j.flood@cabi.org
CABI Commodities Project Administrator - cabi-commodities@cabi.org