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Bio-fungicides for the Management of Coffee Wilt Disease in East Africa

Bio-fungicides for the Management of Coffee Wilt Disease in East Africa

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The big idea

Eastern Africa region is among the largest producers and exporters of coffee. However, Coffee wilt disease (CWD), caused by the fungus Fusarium xylarioides, has become a major threat to coffee production. Currently, the management of CWD is by traditional methods such as uprooting infected plants, pruning affected branches, and applying pesticides. This project will use alternative eco-friendly microbial products to manage CWD. The products have been successfully demonstrated in the biological control of soil-borne pathogens in perennial crops.

Why it matters

The nature and capability of Fusarium xylarioides to survive in the absence of coffee plants significantly affects the management of this disease through chemical control and cultural practices. Thus, the application of chemical fungicides appears to be ineffective. Moreover, the prevalence of CWD has been very high in Eastern Africa with repeated cycles of infection. The average incidence of CWD was surprisingly higher than 50% for a systemic disease that kills plants and relies mainly on spreading by people through weed removal using slashers or machete, among others.

A new solution

The project will formulate a standardized Triasper biofungicide of Trichoderma asperellum AU13 into a water-dispensable granule-based biofungicide with enhanced product safety, efficacy, and quality. A standardized Triasper biofungicide product will be made available for field use to prevent and reverse the coffee yield loss. The technology behind Triasper biological fungicide product involves the use of the naturally occurring Trichoderma asperellum AU131 strain. Triasper biofungicide directly targets the coffee wilt pathogen (Fusarium xylarioides). It works by colonizing the plant’s surface or root system, competing with the harmful fungi for resources, or producing compounds that inhibit the CWD fungus Fusarium xylarioides.  It can reduce CWD incidence and severity by more than 70% and 32%, respectively. Additionally, it serves as a bio-fertilizer that encourages coffee plant development and yield while shielding the roots of the coffee plant from other soil-borne disease attacks.


If successful, it is hoped that the Triasper biological fungicide will be registered in Ethiopia and in countries participating in the project. Small and large-scale coffee farmers would have access to the product. The use of Triasper biofungicide will increase coffee productivity by saving coffee tree losses (deforestation) incurred due to CWD, reducing the usage of chemical fungicides in coffee production, creating jobs, increasing GDP, growing foreign exchange from coffee, and developing infrastructure for local coffee processing.

Environmental sustainability

Coffee plantations often exist within or near ecologically sensitive areas such as forests or water catchment areas. By addressing CWD and promoting sustainable farming practices, the project can contribute towards protecting the environment and biodiversity conservation in Eastern Africa. Biological fungicides offer several advantages over chemical fungicides, including being environmentally friendly, safe for humans and beneficial organisms, and having minimal impact on non-target organisms. They also have the potential to provide long-term disease control by establishing a natural balance between the plant and its surrounding environment. As a result, they eliminate greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere thus contributing to climate change mitigation.

Project Partners


Project Leader

Prof Tesfaye Alemu – Kaffabio Control Agro-Industry PLC