Black Sigatoka in bananas: Ecoclimatic suitability and disease pressure assessments
Black leaf streak disease, or black Sigatoka, is caused by the fungus Pseudocercospora fijiensis, and has been identified as a major constraint to global production of banana and plantain. We fitted a climatic niche model (CLIMEX) for P. fijiensis to gain an understanding of the patterns of climate suitability, and hence hazard from this disease. We then calibrated the climate suitability patterns against the results of an expert elicitation of disease pressure patterns. We found a moderately strong non-linear relationship between modelled climate suitability for P.°fijiensis and the expert ratings for disease pressure. The strength of the relationship provides a cross-validation between the CLIMEX model and the expert elicitation process. The bulk of global banana production experiences high potential threat from P. fijiensis, and the higher yielding areas for banana and plantain production are at greatest threat. By explicitly considering the role of irrigation we have been able to identify how strategic irrigation could be used to support banana production in areas that are at low risk from P. fijiensis.