The New Times (Kigali)

20 May 2013

Rwanda: Maize Disease Leaves Rubavu Farmers Guessing

Farmers in Rubavu District say they are threatened by a new maize disease which has attacked their farms and dried up the corns before harvest period.

The disease struck toward the end of April. Officials said the disease was new in the country, identified it as maize chlorotic mottle virus. It is characterised by drying plants.

Farmers say they worry about the production as most of the fields were affected.

"I only had one month to harvest, now I can't say I will harvest anything. I have lost hope for this season, the whole plantation has dried," said Liberata Nyirabagoyi, a farmer in Kabirizi Cell, Rugerero Sector.

"It is a disaster we have failed to contain. If it persists, we might end up with hunger and our worry is that it can attack even other crops," said Ignace Rwiririza.

According to Blaise Harelimana, the in charge of agriculture in the district, the disease affects maize by prematurely drying leaves and the stem.

He said that in collaboration with Rwanda Agriculture Board, they have tried to contain it before it spreads to other parts of the country.

The pesticide being distributed is called cyperetrine, he said.

"The disease has attacked maize in some district's sectors and we want to contain it. However, we have not yet identified its cause and research is ongoing," said Harelimana.

"We are creating awareness to people about the disease, we have also gone through fields uprooting the affected maize and we hope with the pesticides it will not spread further," he said.

At least 40 hectares of maize have been uprooted in Cyanzarwe Sector, according to Harelimana.

Other sectors that have registered mild attack of the disease include Nyakiriba, Rubavu and Rugerero.

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