Plant doctor advice increasing availability of clean banana suckers in Kitema, Uganda

By Mary Bundi and Charles Tumuhe

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In Uganda the majority of the young people are unemployed, and efforts to create employment opportunities within the agriculture sector are yielding little to no interest among them. Agriculture is not viewed as a viable employment sector, due to the perceptions that agriculture as a profession is labour intensive, results in high crop losses from pests and diseases, and generates low income with little profitability that cannot support their livelihoods.

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Factsheet of the month: April 2015 – Trapping banana weevils

Banana weevils factsheetAccording to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Tanzania and Uganda, who produce almost half of all bananas in Africa, are only achieving 9% of their expected yield. This year sees the start of a 5-year project to develop high-yielding, pest resistant banana hybrids. Rony Swennen, the project’s leader, says that he hopes this will help to increase resistance to pests such as nematodes, Black Sigatoka and banana weevils. Banana weevils are found in virtually all banana-growing countries of the world and can cause severe damage to the banana plant. The weevils bore into the trunk and roots, which weakens the plants and can cause them to collapse altogether. This month’s Factsheet of the month explains how banana weevil populations can be reduced using traps made from 2 halves of a freshly cut banana stem.

 This factsheet was written by an agronomist from the Ministry of Agriculture in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also available in French.

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Weevils get bugged

Banana weevil, image from via rural

Never mind phone hacking scandals, it has recently been revealed that radio tags have been attached to banana weevils allowing their exact movements to be followed. Ignoring any controversy over invasions of privacy, this new insight into weevil journeys’ has produced some interesting results for researchers and banana growers alike.

Earlier this year a ‘weevil detector’ that could test for the presence of red palm weevils inside the trunks of palm trees allowed pesticides to be targeted more effectively. But stalking weevils has now reached a new level, as they get tracked on their daily commutes around banana plantations.

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