According to IPP Media, over 8,000 people in 15 villages in Kagera region of Tanzania are in dire need of food relief following an outbreak of banana bacterial disease that has destroyed 90% of the banana crop. Bananas are the staple food for people in the region. Adam Malima, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives, told the National Assembly earlier this week that the government has allocated 300 tonnes of maize to be distributed to people in the area.
Banana bacterial wilt (or “banana slim”) is easily spread through pollinating insects, tools and planting material. Disease management is notoriously difficult, often involving cultural methods that can be impractical for smallholders. One easy method of prevention involves breaking off the male flower bud using a fork-shaped stick.
The male flower bud is often where the bacteria enters the plant. Pollinating insects collect nectar from the bud and carry nectar from plant to plant, transferring the bacteria at the same time. Removing the male bud soon after formation of the last cluster stops insects from spreading the disease. A forked stick can be used to twist and break the bud. This is better than cutting the bud off with a knife which might spread the bacteria.
This is just one way of preventing this disease and management should follow an integrated approach with a combination of the following:
- Plant clean suckers from a healthy plantation
- Prevent animals and people entering your field as they can spread the disease on their feet, boots, clothes or tools.
- If plants show symptoms of the disease, uproot and bury them.
- Disinfect farm tools after using them on infected plants by passing them through a flame.
- Avoid transplanting affected products from one place to another.
- Do not plant a banana plantation in the infested area within 6 months.
For more information, read the banana bacterial wilt treatment factsheets on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.