RWAMAGANA — The State Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Agnes Karibata has urged banana farmers to heighten efforts to stem the spread of banana wilt.
She made the call at the weekend in Kayonza district while addressing representatives of banana farmers from across the districts of the Eastern Province.
“We appeal to residents to always report banana wilt disease to Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) officials for immediate action,” Dr. Karibata said.
She urged all area residents to set up a task force in every village that would work closely with local leaders in identifying areas struck by the disease in order to report the cases to RADA officials during the information gathering phases.
In the meantime, the minister and farmers had an on-spot tour of banana plantations in Mukarange sector to assess the amount of damage caused by the wilt. It was discovered that the wilt had hit and destroyed several plantations within a space of one week.
According to RADA officials, an infected plant withers and bears yellowish bananas whose fingers appear ripe before maturing.
Other signs are: when the stem of the affected banana plant is cut, it produces yellowish fluids that are similar to pus.
In order to counter the spread of the disease, farmers were urged to completely uproot the affected banana plantations, stop transplanting from the infected plants and to stop sharing tools that have been used in the affected banana plantations.
Other measures include; stopping movement of cows in plantations that can transmit the disease and also to stop selling infected bananas.
Farmers were advised to replace cut down plantations with other crops which are not prone to the wilt. According to agricultural officials, bananas can be replanted in the same area after six months.