Deadly banana wilt disease spreads to Eastern Province

The Banana Xanthomonas wilt, commonly known as ‘Kirabiranya’, has attacked all sectors of Eastern Province. Banana Xanthomonas Wilt is characterised by yellowing and wilting of banana leaves, shrivelling of male buds, premature ripening and internal yellowing of fruits.
A woman in Nyagatare District inspects her banana plantation.  File.
A woman in Nyagatare District inspects her banana plantation. File.

The Banana Xanthomonas wilt, commonly known as ‘Kirabiranya’, has attacked all sectors of Eastern Province.

Banana Xanthomonas Wilt is characterised by yellowing and wilting of banana leaves, shrivelling of male buds, premature ripening and internal yellowing of fruits.

The bacterial disease has in the recent months devastated banana plantations in neighbouring countries including Tanzania. Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) coordinator, Eastern Province, Celestin Nyambi, told The New Times yesterday that many districts in the province were at risk.

“Almost all sectors in Nyagatare District are affected with the worst hit being; Mukama, Kiyombe, Tabagwe, Rukomo, and Katabagemwa. Rwamagana, Kirehe, Ngoma and Kayonza districts are also facing a similar threat,” he said.

Of the numerous diseases infecting bananas, the bacterium has been cited as  the most devastating in recent times.

RAB officials said although extensive management of the disease outbreak helped reduce the impact of the disease, it continues to pose

a serious challenge to the banana farmers of the country.Nyambi said a special team of agronomists had been dispatched to Nyagatare and other districts to curtail the spread of the disease. He added that vigilance and the quick removal of infected plants remain critical to minimising the spread of the disease.

Nyambi said RAB involved local leaders to mobilise the communities so that major control measures can be rolled out as soon as possible.

“We have dispatched a team to Nyagatare to work  closely with local leaders. Every banana plantation in communities must be assessed. The affected trees will be uprooted and buried,” he     said.

Nyambi said plants can be removed using herbicides or by cutting down the plant and letting it decompose.

At least 30% of arable land in Eastern Province is covered by banana plantation.

Nehemie Uwimana, the Mayor of Rwamagana, said the disease posed a serious economic problem to the communities.

He called upon farmers to join RAB in its efforts to stop the spread of the disease, adding that all sectors of Rwamagana were infected.

“Banana is the main source of revenue for most of our people. What is worrying, however, is that  over 3oo have been affected  yet the disease has no known cure,” he said.

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