TIMP Details

Crop management
Integrating single stem removal and suspension of use of cutting tools in cultural control of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Kenya
  • Uganda

Description of the technology or innovation

Cultural control practices seem feasible in the management of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt. However, there is an option of removing a single infected plant from the infected mat, thus leaving the remaining suckers unaffected (non-diseased). This is because most infection starts from the upper parts of plant and takes some time to get to the corm. This method involves the cutting of the affected corms from the mat leaving the remaining corms to continue to grow and give healthy bunches. A corm is the short swollen underground part of a banana plant. If the infected plant is cut at the base during that time, it is possible to save suckers on the same mat. There is a 20% chance that infection may have entered the corm if the disease is in advanced stages of development, so the suckers already infected may need to be rouged out with the whole banana stool.

Once a field gets infected, there are more infected plants than are observed during incubation period (three months). It is recommended that the farmer suspends use of cutting tools in the same field for at least three (3) months. During this time, the farmer removes all infected plants, including those, which had incubating infection at the commencement of control, which will have shown symptoms by this time. The number of infected plants gradually reduces to zero. The farmer should only use cutting tools for harvesting. If a field with infected at incidence of 80% is rogued and the farmer waits at least 6 months before replanting, incurs the cost of replanting, the new banana field takes at 1 year to produce the first bunch.


Assessment/reflection on utilization, dissemination & scaling out or up approaches used

During  meetings  with  participating  farmers  to  review  BXW  control  activities,  other  farmers  in  the community,  together  with  the  local  leaders,  were  invited  to  share  BXW  control  experiences.  The technologies  were  then  packaged  in  posters,  audio  and  video  recordings  which  were  used  for dissemination  along  different  pathways.  Both  traditional  approaches  (mass  media,  posters,  training  of trainers) and participatory approaches (directly engaging the  farmers, and securing their commitment to
control and monitor BXW control with them) were also used for information dissemination.

Current situation and future scaling up

The  technology  has  been  effectively  used  to  control  BXW  in  areas  where  the  project  activities  were hosted.  Effective  spillover  control  was  observed  in  the  neighboring  farming  communities  following  the limited  dissemination  undertaken  within  the  project  framework.  Information  collected  from  the  project research activities will also be published in a peer review journal and can be used in teaching sessions in universities. Greater impact will be realized if the technology is actively promoted to other BXW control players such as the NARS and their  networks (extension,  mass  media, NGOs,  local  leaders) that link to farming and trading communities in the region.

Economic Considerations

There are minimum costs related to purchased inputs, construction or installation.  The technology under is based on cultural control. Apart from the cost of effecting control which is farmers’ labour, the other costs are  related to  information  dissemination  and  mobilisation  of  farming  communities  through  the  different players. The following is an example of returns of BXW control. Farmer field schools of 30 farmers each in Uganda were supported with US$ 700. This was mainly to pay the facilitator for lunch and transport for about 25 sessions they had within 2 years and buy a little stationery.  For an average income of US$ 30 per month  for each of the  farmers  from rehabilitated banana  fields, each of the  farmers’ group earned US$ 21,600  in 2  years excluding the  bananas they ate with their  families. This  is  an under-estimate because farmers have continued earning now for over 4 years and there were spillover effects to the surrounding farming communities and other farmers that were visiting them.

Gender considerations

During the dissemination of the technology, both women and men played an important role in effecting control measures on their fields and mobilizing communities for BXW control. Women and children were assigned the specific duty of monitoring for infected plants and reporting them to relevant authorities for removal. 

Case study or profiles of success stories

Communities coming together for a common cause may not be new. However, the advent of a capitalistic society  ushered  in  generations  that  mostly  only  care  for  themselves.  That  doesn’t  seem  to  be  the  case anymore when it comes to controlling BXW in the region. In Burundi, communities are at the forefront in the  fight  against  the  banana  wilt  disease.  Commonly  nown  as  Innovation  Platforms,  initiated  by  the ASARECA programme on BXW Control  in the  region, the communities come together through regular meetings to find ways through which the disease can be controlled. 

In  Burundi,  the  ey  activities  of  the  groups  such  as  the  one  in  Cibitoke,  58km  east  of  the  capital Bujumbura include awareness creation, massive mobilisation of fellow farmers, both within the area and  the  surrounding  villages  to  actively  control  BXW,  monitoring  the  level  of  BXW  control  among  the farmers  and  sharing  experiences.  A  similar  platform  exists  in  the  villages  surrounding  the  capital  city, known as Bujumbura Rural Innovation Platform.  

The  platforms  have  also  enabled  formulation  and  subsequent  enforcement  of  community  byelaws  to compel  some  few defiant  farmers to control  BXW. In order to control the disease  in  more  villages, the project  trains  some  platform  members  as  trainers  so  that  a  sizeable  number  of  farmers  is  available  to regularly create awareness about BXW control in a wider area such as a sub-county or a district.  

Innovation  platform  members  also  share  their  experiences  on  formulation  and  implementation  of community/sub-county action plans and byelaws. Before the inception of the project, BXW was widespread  with some areas reporting incidence levels as high as 72% of affected plants. Harvest losses were standing at an average of 92% in most areas during the BXW disease peak.

“Innovation platforms have played a key role in ensuring that BXW is controlled and farmers have been able to undertake control activities such as suspension of  use of tools and timely removal of male buds. The  farmers  are  also  able  to  remove  single  infected  plant  from  a  banana  mat  on  seeing  symptoms  for BXW control on their fields,” says Nicholas Niko, a project team leader in Burundi.  Because of these control measures, farmers are now harvesting at the average of 72% of disease pre-peak

Success story: Forking out Banana yield from the BXW Menace
Francis  Katabaro  is  a  progressive  banana  farmer  in  Ruhunga  Ward  and  has  grown  the  crop  for  several years. In 2008, Francis noticed that some of  his  banana plants were  yellowing as  if they were  had been flamed.  He  also  noticed  premature  ripening  of  his  bunches  and  when  he  cut through the  fingers  with  a nife, the tissue was hard. Attempts to cook the fruit also resulted in hard fingers that were not good to eat. “When  I  cut the  cut the  corms  of  the  affected  plants  as  I  was  uprooting  after  harvest, I  noticed  yellow oozing” Francis adds. The farmer however had no idea what was causing the problem and the extension staff also didn’t have ready answers. Francis  lived wi th the problem and his  banana  yields continued to decline  until  early  201  when  scientists  from  ARDI  and  extension  staff  visited  the  village  to  create
awareness on the disease. The farmers were advised to cut down and bury the affected mats however this was  difficult  to  implement  because  they  didn’t  want  to  lose  their  plantations.  Later  the  extension  staff returned and promoted the single stem removal method. “We were more agreeable to this method because we  only  cut  the  affected  corms  from  the  mat,  while  the  remaining  corms  continued  to  grow  and  give healthy bunches if we continued to practice good orchard management such as flaming tools” 

However Francis was also educated on various other options that should be used in an integrated manner to  achieve  better  control.  “The  male  bud  removal  using  the  forked  stick  technology  was  the  most enlightening to me of all the packages “Francis muses. Using  a forked stick, the farmers remove the male bud after the fingers have formed by twisting the bud forcefully sideways using the stick so that it breaks off  and  drops  to  the  ground.  Dr.  Jackson  Nkuba,  a  scientist  on  the  project  adds  that  insects  are  major vectors of the disease as they move inoculum between plants when they visit the flowers. Removal of the male  bud  removes  this  source  of  disease  propagation  and  can  substantially  reduce  infection  on  formed bunches. Since  Francis  started practicing the BXW  management options, the  number of sick plants had
drastically reduced and in the last two month period, the farmer has only cut two sick plants. “Iam hoping that by the end of next month, all the plants with latent infection will have expressed symptoms and I will remove them. Thereafter I will have managed to eradicate the disease from my farm “he happily remarks.  On his piece of land, Francis produced for sale 80 bunches per month before the disease. However during peak disease infestation, he was producing less than 5 bunches per week. After implementing the control measures, he now obtains 25-30 bunches per month for sale and when all the replaced mats come into full production, he hopes to attain pre-disease yield levels. Francis is grateful for the knowledge on BXW that enabled him save his orchard and he believes more advice will be forthcoming.


Application guidelines for the users

Farmers believe that a banana fields already affected to 100% incidence is not recoverable.  Every affected field still has some suckers that are not diseased. The issue is how to identify the non-diseased plants and eep them  non-diseased. The  farmers need to diligently apply the recommended practices as a package. This necessitates continuous dissemination of information to the farming communities. This if backed with mobilisation of farmers for BXW control will enhance successful promotion of the technologies. This can
be  effected  through  innovation  platforms  which  would  consist  of  the  different  stakeholders  including research, regulatory agent, extension, local leaders (political and other opinion leaders) and NGOs.

Contact details

Contact details for further information
Jerome Kubiriba  
Scientist, National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)  
P.O Box 7084, Kampala, Uganda  
Mob: 256-0774-246156
Email: jkubiriba@kari.go.ug, banana@imul.com

Margaret Atieno Onyango  
Scientist, KARI - Kisii Centre,  
P O Box 523 - 40200,  
Kisii, Kenya
Tel +254 202112913,  
Mob: +254 738428110 / +254 712344721
Email: maonyango2001@hotmail.com  or maonyango2001@gmail.com

Espoir Bisimwa Basengere
Universite Catholique De Bukavu/RDC
Faculte Des Sciences Agronomiques
Laboratoire de Phytopathologie
Via BP: 02 Cyangugu Rwanda
Tél: +243997701265/ +243853710509
Email: ebisimwa@yahoo.com

William Tinzaara  
Sceintist, Bioversity International  
P.O Box 24384, Kampala, Uganda  
Tel: 256-41-286213  
Fax: 256-41-286949  
Email: w.tinzaara@cgiar.org  

James Wanjohi Muthomi  
Scientist, University of Nairobi (UON),  
P O Box 29053  
Nairobi, Kenya.  
Email: james_wanjohi@yahoo.com

Fen Beed  
Scientist, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)  
P O Box 7878 Kampala, Uganda  
Email: f.beed@cgiar.org

Additional information

Deployment  of  the  modified  cultural  package  for  BXW  control  resulted  in  significant  reduction  of incidence within the first six (6) months, coupled with a corresponding significant increase in bunch yield (Figure  1).  The  control  programme  hinged  on  single  stem  remo val  and  suspending  pruning  of  affected fields  for  up  to  three  (3)  months,  in  addition  to  previously  recommended  practices  such  as  male  bud removal with a forked stick and disinfection of tools with  fire. This was a significant departure from what had previously been recommended in southwestern Uganda and Mt. Elgon region. BXW control in these areas involved rouging the whole infected mat. Suspension of the use of cutting tools in infected fields was also  ey  to  controlling  BXW  during  the  incubation  period.  During  the  initial  mobilization  meeting  in Rwamucucu – Kabale, the farmers quickly recognized that those who did not prune their plantations when BXW emerged were the only ones that had BXW– free banana fields in the area. A combination of all the practices,  including  those  already  recommended  (debudding  using  a  forked  stick  and  disinfection  of cutting tools) lead to significant reduction of BXW incidence (Figure 1) and eventually banana production recovery (Figure 2)  in Uganda. The project has  so far run  for  less than two (2) years and  yet impact in
terms of change in food security and livelihood is likely to be visible in the near future. However, farmers’ have great confidence that BXW can be controlled and are optimistic that their livelihoods will change for
the better.