According 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.
Plantwise has been active in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2006. It has been doing admirable work with the cocoa growers of ESCO Kivu and the “Universite Catholique du Graben” in North Kivu province in the last 5 years. However, since November 2013, the focus has been on getting the central government figures of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Livestock (“Ministere de l’Agriculture, Peche et Elevage”) on board in order to develop a sustainable plant clinic structure in the country.
In December 2013, Plantwise trained 20 staff from the Crop Protection department (Direction pour la Production et Protection des Vegetaux), and 3 staff from the Extension Department (Service National de Vulgarisation) as plant doctors that will operate plant clinics. These plant clinics are designed to give the best recommendation for a given crop problem.
On the 24th May 2014, the Plantwise DRC clinic programme was officially launched in CECOMAF, the central commune of the Kinshasa province, by the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture, Hubert Ali Ramazani, alongside the Crop Protection, Extension and Quarantine deputies. Representatives from other donors, such as the FAO, the World Bank and the Fonds Belge de Sécurité Alimentaire, all the trained plant doctors (shown below in their white blouses), as well as Radio television Nationale du Congo (the national News Network) and Radio Okapi (UN sponsored radio station) were also in attendance for this momentous occasion. Click here to listen to radio coverage of the event (French language).
Five weekly clinics are scheduled to take place in the Province of Kinshasa and will remain in place till the end of 2014. Continue reading →
The latest Plantwise newsletter is here. Click ‘Read more’ to find out about plant clinics being set up in Rwanda, the experiences of a plant doctor in DRC, and what plant doctor training really entails.