Kabarole district has registered an increase in Banana production following the effective control of the spread of the Banana Bacterial Wilt disease. Since 2000, when the wilt was detected, it has destroyed several banana plantations in various parts of the country leading to total loss of yields.
Past statistics at Kabarole district agricultural department show that 80% of the farmers were affected by the wilt, which threatened their livelihoods since they depended on bananas for food and income. Following the destruction of banana plantations, Village BBW task committees were formed and set up measures to contain the spread of the wilt.
Some of the measures included removing the affected plants, cutting them to small pieces to dry and sterilizing the farm tools used on the affected plants before using them on other plants with either fire or detergents like JIK. District authorities also enacted bylaws, with strict penalties to prevent further spread of the wilt.
The farmers have since adhered to the measures and bylaws which has reduced the spread of the wilt and increased banana production. At least the wilt has been contained in 22 out of the 25 sub counties in the district.
Brenda Mpanja, the chairperson of Karambi Sub County BBW Task Force says when the wilt was detected in 2012 her committee came up with punishments for those who fail to adhere to the set guidelines, which has since paid off.
Bernard Baguma, a banana farmer in Karambi says that he lost more than three acres of banana plantations depriving him of income and food. Baguma says that he adhered to the preventive measures and has since registered success.
Amos Mugume, the Kabalore district production coordinator says that following the formulation of the bylaws, banana production has increased from 40% to 80%. He says they will continue sensitizing farmers on the BBW control measures.
Last year, Uganda registered some achievements in fighting banana related diseases when researchers at the National Agricultural Research Laboratory in Kawanda developed new varieties which are resistant to the banana bacterial wilt disease, nematodes and weevils.
Bananas remain one of the most important food crops in Uganda. The crop is the single most important staple contributing about 30 per cent of the total food consumption and 14 per cent of total crop value with over 24 per cent of all agricultural households engaged in banana production.