The New Times (Kigali)

13 January 2013

Rwanda: RAB to Launch Banana Wilt Campaign

Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) will be launching a campaign to fight Banana Wilt, a disease that has affected 24 districts countrywide.

The week-long campaign to be launched this month in Nyagatare District in the Eastern Province aims at sensitising farmers and the public of the best farming practices to fight the disease.

Innocent Musabyimana, the Deputy Director General of RAB, said that the move will see many farmers acquire skills not only in fighting the disease but also how to improve their harvest.

"We have been engaged in various preventive measures to ensure that the disease does not spread, we also acknowledge that building farmers' skills to contribute to preventive measures is equally important," said Musabyimana.

Banana Wilt is a bacterial disease that, among others, is characterised by yellowing and wilting of banana leaves, shriveling of male buds, premature ripening and internal discoloration of fruits.

Although there are other methods through which the disease can spread that makes it difficult to control, like through bees flying from one infected sucker to the other, Musabyimana argues that capacity building will enable farmers engage in other preventive measures.

In addition to uprooting infected plants and burying them, the disease can also be controlled by removing male buds from the non-affected plants that may attract bees.

During last year's field study, Vincent Ndimwami, a farmer in Buvuma Cell, Mukura Sector in Huye District, which is among the districts most affected, said that uprooting their plants and replanting enabled them to effectively fight the disease.

At least 3,200 hectares of banana plantations have been rehabilitated and 58,740 farmers are directly involved.

RAB officials are optimistic that the latest initiative will increase the number of farmers who are involved in fighting the disease

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