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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 for further information
Scientist, National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)
P.O Box 7084, Kampala, Uganda
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Margaret Atieno Onyango
Scientist, KARI - Kisii Centre,
P O Box 523 - 40200,
Tel +254 202112913,
Mob: +254 738428110 / +254 712344721
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Espoir Bisimwa Basengere
Universite Catholique De Bukavu/RDC
Faculte Des Sciences Agronomiques
Laboratoire de Phytopathologie
Via BP: 02 Cyangugu Rwanda
Tél: +243997701265/ +243853710509
Sceintist, Bioversity International
P.O Box 24384, Kampala, Uganda
James Wanjohi Muthomi
Scientist, University of Nairobi (UON),
P O Box 29053
Scientist, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
P O Box 7878 Kampala, Uganda
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