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Sheema Banana Farmers Battling New Disease Outbreak

Women carry the affected Black Brown rusty Thrips banana

Farmers in Sheema district are battling a strange Banana disease outbreak. The disease has been reported in the sub-counties of Rugarama, Kasaana, Kigarama, Masheruka and Kakindo Town Councils.

Zeferiyano Byaruhanga, one of the affected farmers in Nyakanyinya II in Kasaana Sub- County, says that an infected banana turns colour and hardens. He says the bananas turn black or brown while the leaves dry up.

He says that the disease was first noticed in September last year but disappeared and has returned affecting almost every plantation in the area. 

Juma Mushabe, the LC I Chairperson Bigona II in Rugarama Sub County, says the disease is wiping out banana plantations in the village. He says that they have only been advised to get rid of the infected plantation as the only available solution. 

Barbra Kyokusiima, a resident of Kyangundu ward in Kakiindo Town council, says that farmers are struggling to deal with the disease outbreak. She says that the only option left for them is to destroy the affected suckers as advised by the extension workers.

David Twinamastiko, the senior Agricultural Officer of Sheema district confirms the disease outbreak. He identifies it as the Black and Brown Rust thrips. He says the disease is transmitted by the wind, farm tools or Thrips, which eat and peel off the outer skin of the banana finger exposing it to fungus, which later turns the colour of the finger into brown or black. 

He says the disease is common during the dry spell because when it rains the flies or fungi is washed away leaving the banana clean and safe. He says it is hard to tell the disease in its early stages unless the banana fingers turn colour. He, however, says that they have dispatched samples to Kawanda Agriculture Research Center to find treatment for the disease.

He says that the current solution is for the farmers to use the traditional practices they use to fight off the banana bacterial wilt to check further spread. This includes removing the buds of the bananas two weeks after flowering, sanitizing farm tools with jik, eliminating the affected plants and burring or destroying them completely.

The disease outbreak is an addition to other two banana diseases including the Banana Bacterial wilt and Fusarium wilt, which have hit the district. The Banana Bacterial wilt and Fusarium wilt have been reported across all Sub Counties and Town councils in Sheema district.  

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