Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has put in place new measures to control the banana xanthomonas wilt, which has affected several districts in the country. Under the ‘Community Mobilisation Campaign’, RAB officials have since Monday been traversing villages in Rwamagana, Kayonza, and Gatsibo districts targeting farmers that are most affected by the disease. According to Innocent Musabimana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Agriculture, recurrent disease outbreak was due to negligence by the local leaders and farmers. He said a special week had been dedicated to raise awareness about the disease in all districts of the Eastern Province. “The disease can be spread by farmland tools or through air and bird pollination...it is dangerous. It is upon farmers and local leaders to get committed to stop the spread of the disease.” Musabimana added that specialists are on the ground to help farmers uproot infected plants. He, however, advised that farmers should watch out for signs of the disease. “Some farmers were not even aware that their banana plants were infected,” he said. The disease, locally known as ‘Kirabiranya’, has spread to several parts of the country, prompting agriculture officials to move to contain it before it could hurt food security. Innocent Ukiziru, an agriculture officer in Rwamagana District, said it was everybody’s responsibility to fight food insecurity in the district. “We are working closely with RAB officials in a one week campaign to check the spread of the disease. It has had devastating effect.” He urged all residents to be vigilant, identify and report the infected banana plants, adding that more research is required to understand the disease, which has caused anxiety among farmers. “An infected banana plant can be recognised when its leaves wilt and turn greenish-yellow, develops premature ripening and staining of fruits and when the male bud dries. This is when farmers should report (the case) immediately…it is very dangerous and cannot easily be eradicated, it also has low incidence,” Ukiziru said. Farmers’ losses “I used to get around Rwf1m every month from banana production, but I can’t even get a penny since the disease destroyed our plantations,” said Damascene Ndangamira, a local banana farmer. Bananas plantations occupy more than 20 percent of the country’s total cultivated land.