TANZANIA: 7000 banana stems destroyed to prevent spread of disease

Bukoba — OVER 7,000 banana stems have been destroyed in Kyerwa District in the ongoing operation aimed to combat Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW).


Kyerwa District Executive Director, Mr George Mkindo said a special committee had been formed to make spot inspection in all villages, adding that a farmer who was found to have neglected his farm was fined 10,000/- for each infected stem.


He said over 4m/- had so far been collected from fines while 605 similar cases were pending in court. Authorities in Kagera Region were conducting on-spot inspection of banana plantains in effort to combat the wilt disease.


Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Fabian Massawe, said several strategies had shown positive results including using human urine, ashes and destroying through burning the plants showing signs of the disease.


Eight districts in Kagera Region have confirmed to have been hit by the disease, also known as Banana Bacterial Wilt (BBW). Almost 90 per cent of the entire crop is at risk of destruction.


According to Mr Massawe, starting January, this year, surveillance teams were making on-spot inspection and penalise farmers who will be proved to have neglected their banana farms. He also directed District Councils to set up by-laws to combat the disease.


The situation has caused panic among farmers and residents in the region who depend on banana as their main staple and cash crop. BXW is a bacterial disease that causes yellowing and wilting of the leaves, uneven and premature ripening of the fruits and eventually the plants rot and die.


BXW is caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris and affects all types of banana plants. Available data indicate that Kagera Region has annual yield of about 650,000 tonnes of banana. Banana is the mainstay of the region’s economic backbone of Kagera residents, comprising over 2.2 million people.


“The deadly BXW has now spread to Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes Region. It cannot be controlled by one ministry. Joint effort are needed from all stakeholders in agriculture.


“Policy makers should put more emphasis on mass mobilisation to control spread of the disease. Other banana growing areas include Arusha, Mbeya, Morogoro and Kilimanjaro regions where BXW has not been reported yet and should now streamline surveillance,” he said.


Source: All Africa

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