South Western Uganda Farmers Count losses As Mildew Disease Strikes Apples

Apple farmers in Kabale district are counting losses following an outbreak of the Powdery mildew also known white Ash disease. The most affected farmers are found in Kyantobi, Omukateretere, Nangara, Omukebitakuri and Rushaki in Bubaare Sub County. The diseases have so far destroyed 2000 apple trees. Edison Twinomugisha, the LC III chairperson Bubaare Sub County says that the disease has spread to more than 238 orchards. He says this puts more than 23,800 apple trees at the risk of drying up.

Paul Bagakibayo has lost about 50 apple trees to the disease. Bagakibayo says that he has resorted to destroying the infected apple trees to contain the disease from spreading to other trees as they wait for technical advice from the extension workers. He says that black insects attack the plant and destroys the flowers which stop it from producing fruits. Peter Murekyezi, a farmer from Omukaterere Village says the disease has become a big challenge to his survival because he has been relying on the proceeds from the apples to educate his children.

He however, says that his hopes to raise money are fast fading because most of his apple trees have been destroyed by the disease. Keith Rwamahe, an apple farmer from Kyanamira Sub County says they have not been helped by extension workers at Sub County. He says some of the extension workers have little knowledge about Apples.

He believes the disease could be a result of poor farming practices such as intercropping apples with other crops.

immy Musiime the chairperson Kabale district Apple growers association says the disease attacks the branches saying the only available remedy is to destroy it to avoid further spread. He cautions the farmers to be extra careful where they pick the seedlings from. Rodgers Akatwijuka, the Kigezi regional coordinator National Agricultural Advisory services says they are working closely with the National Agricultural Research organization at Kacwekano agricultural research and development institute to find a lasting solution to the problem.

He explains that the white Ash disease is caused by the fungus known as Podosphaera leucotricha which attacks the buds, blossoms, leaves, new shoots, and apple fruit. He says that the diseases interferes with the proper functioning of leaves, reduces shoot growth, fruit set, and produces a netlike russet on the fruit. He urges farmers to Choose varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew.
He says that some scab-resistant apple varieties are also resistant to Powdery mildew disease as well.

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