RESIDENTS of Bukoba in Kagera Region have asked the government to take preventive measures to contain banana wilt decease which threatens to wipe out whole plantations in the region.
They asserted that if no measures are taken the decease, commonly known as 'Mnyauko' would plunge them into poverty. Banana is the main staple food in the region. "Mnyauko has seriously affected our lives. It is leading us to poverty.
The government should intervene and take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the decease," Mr Alphonse Kilanso, a resident of Bunyambele Village, told a team of journalists who were in the region recently. He said that Mnyauko disease has been affecting banana plantations for some time now.
It has been attacking the leaves drying them completely. As a result, he said, the banana plant fails to produce the fruits as required. "This disease has seriously affected our lives. There is a serious shortage of food in Kamachumu Ward.
We depend on bananas to get money for several needs for our families, but the receipts have dropped drastically," another resident in the ward, Mr Charles Simeo, said.
According to him, they have tried to cultivate alternative crops like maize, potatoes and cassava to meet some of their needs, but that was not helping them much.
"Some extension officers have been coming to us to enlighten us on how to go about this disease. But we need some support from the government as well," another resident in the area, Mr Gerald Lutosha, said.
He said there was no cure as of now of the disease and what they were doing was to uproot the affected crop and they leave the areas for at least one year before planting another banana in the same place.
"This is costing us a lot. This disease has been attacking our products for more than a year now since its appearance from Uganda. The government should do something to save our lives," he said.