Develop microbial strategies to manage rice blast

Tanzania government has recently made a series of policies to support the agriculture development for both demotic and export markets in order to address the local, regional, and global demand-supply gap for rice and high-value fruit. However, sustainable production of these crops in Tanzania faces a number of challenges, including the effective management of plant diseases. For instance, rice blast can usually result in 15% of yield losses. We propose to develop innovative biocontrol methods to manage rice blast, the most damaging disease in rice, combining seed-coating with specific biocontrol agents (BCA) with dipping roots in and foliar applications of BCAs.

To optimise biocontrol strategies, we will conduct experiments to study the effects of coating seeds or dipping roots in BCAs on root microbial population and induced resistance and to study survival and dispersal of BCAs on the leaf surfaces. A network of field studies will be carried out in Tanzania; training courses will be run to promote the principles of integrated pest management. Adoption of the project results will lead to significant increases in marketable yield for smallholder farmers without excessive input of fungicides.

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