Farmers have been advised to understand
the pest patterns in order to control crop pest invasion, especially
in banana plantations.
This is according to Disan Muwanga, celebrated Agricultural
Researcher in Masaka district. He finds it essential for all farmers to
understand the banana wilt patterns that vary each season in order to deter
pests from their plantations.
Muwanga, also the Director Buddu Banana Restoration, said that the wilt attacks all types of banana species including matooke, yellow bananas, gonja (sweet plantain), sweet bananas and others.
Basing on his expertise, different crop pests and diseases usually behave according to a particular weather condition. Some will hibernate in harsh conditions and rejuvenate later when the weather is favorable.
He emphasized that farmers ought to know that banana wilt takes advantage of the rain season to attack fresh banana stools in the rain season
“The banana stool usual consists of the mother plant and other
suckers which include; the daughter plant and granddaughter sucker. These act
as breeding grounds for both banana wilt and banana weevil,” he noted.
In his explanation, the wilt also takes advantage of the wounds
that are established on the corm (at the base of the stem) by banana weevils,
to transmit it from one plant to another on the banana stool.
During the rainy season, Muwanga highlighted that the banana
bacteria wilt is easily transmitted from its breeding ground because farmers
repeatedly cut the old stumps of the diseased plants into pieces, and leave
them to rote in the plantations. This eases the banana wilt pathogen to spread
through the soil by rainwater.
“It’s usually advisable to ensure that all the stumps are split
during the dry season because the banana bacterial wilt cannot hibernate or
even survive in a dry and hot condition,” he stated.
Drying the stumps in the dry season significantly reduces the
wilt’s breeding activities in the plantation and for this reason, the
plantation will be free from it during the rainy season.
For the last decade, the region has been struggling to eliminate
bacterial banana wilt. In spite of different government initiatives to reduce
the problem, the wilt has persisted due to farmer’s ignorance.
The advice comes amid widespread concerns in greater Masaka
Region over the persistent infestation of plantations by banana bacterial wilt
Rtd. Corp. Charles Matovu, a resident of Kiyumbakimu village in
Kirangira parish, is celebrated large-scale banana farmer, in Kagamba
sub-county has 20 acres.
He said that banana bacterial wilt is among the challenges which
have consistently affected his project. “My production has been reduced from
200 bunches every season to 150 bunches as a result of the wilt,” he said.
He said that he has managed to reduce the infestation with the
help of his 10 workers and hopes to increase production once they reduce the
Juliet Njagala, an organic banana farmer in Busense village,
Kyanjale parish in Masaka district said she controls the wilt in her
5-acre-banana plantation using the knowledge she got from different researchers
Unlike the dry spell, labour and financial challenges, Njagala
said that the banana wilt continues to pose a threat to her banana project.
“Therefore since I incur too much in farming I have to look with
a keen eye to identify and eliminate the infected plants to avoid infecting
other plants,” she noted.
Musoke Gyaviira, another large-scale farmer in Dwaniro
sub-county, earns over one million shillings from her 5-acre-plantation every
She explained that she would be earning more than two million if
it wasn’t for the banana wilt invasion. “Therefore this season I am focusing on
controlling the spread of the wilt in my plantation,” she said.
However, the farmers fear that crop may be wiped out because of
lack vital information about the control of the spread, control and elimination
of the banana disease.
According to Harith Kakooza, the Masaka District Agricultural Officer explained that the government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has enabled to sensitize farmers on how to fight the wilt without spreading it further.
Kakooza said that the first thing they did was to identify the
signs and symptoms of the wilt, its transmission, dangers, how to get rid of it
and how to handle the tools used.
“Among the signs, an infected plant presents cream or yellowish
leaves, rotting and uneven banana ripening to mention,” he explained.
He appealed to the farmers to always be careful while handling
tools used on infected plants urging them to dip them in jik or put them in the
fire before attending to another plant.
According to him, the best way to get rid of the infected plants
is to dry them in one place and bury or burn them. “At least every plant
showing signs should be removed immediately.
He explained that with the help of World Bank several farmers in
Kyanamukaaka sub-county have formed groups and networks to fight banana wilt
and improve soil fertility.
However, much as the wilt has affected banana production in the region, Kakooza explained that there are also other factors including poor farming practices, poor attitude, and others.
Muwanga, farmers should always keep the plantation free from
flowering weed adding that they must remove and split stump at least in the
first week after harvesting or after removing the diseased plants.
Another strategy is to avoid the hoe from getting into contact
with the roots, plus keeping away all the rotting materials from the stool and
keeping it at a distance of 3ft.
Still, he added, farmers should hurry to bury the diseased
plants since the banana wilt pathogen feels comfortable in a moist environment
making it convenient to multiply and spread through the wounds of the roots and
“I caution farmers to do soil loosening and pruning towards the onset of the rainy season but not during the rainy season to avoid fresh wounds on the roots and the stem that exude sap,” he emphasized.
When dealing with an infected plantation, or near an infected
plantation, Muwanga insists that the cutting tool (knife or panga) should be
soaked in jik, liquid soap, or detergent at each interval a farmer uses it on
any plant even when there is no sign of infection exhibited.
The logic behind this is, he argued, is that an infected banana
plant can as well show no signs in the initial stages. This is why very many
plantations display diseased plants during the dry season yet they were earlier
infected during the rainy season.
According to Kakooza, there isn’t any proven research of banana
Bacterial Wilt herbicides. He explained that the herbicides that exist on the
market are counterfeit and cannot do much about the wilt.
“Instead, the farmers have continued buying fake herbicides
to fight the wilt but getting negative results,” he noted.
He further advised farmers to focus on the highlighted practices
in a bit to eliminate the wilt.