Tumuramye says that he has already identified about 15 infected plants in his garden that have already turned black. He says that unless Agriculture officials rush to their rescue, banana farming will drop completely and affect the survival of several families.
Farmers in Rukungiri district are worried about their
plantations following the spread of the Banana rust thrips disease to their
area. The disease has affected several banana plantations Nyarushanje,
Buyanja and Nyakagyeme sub counties.
The disease has also ravaged several banana gardens in
the neighbouring Sheema district. According to the farmers, an infected
plant starts with changing from green to black and hardens. The bananas
lose taste if cooked. As the affected fruits continue to grow, sometimes
the peel cracks causing scarring. The farmers also say the affected bananas do
not ripen even when cut and folded to ripen.
The farmers say that they are battling the disease on their
own because of the failure by the district agriculture and production officials
to come to their rescue. Bernard Byamugisha and Bright Turinawe, both farmers
from Kahoko Parish in Nyakagyeme Sub County, says that the disease
attacks the bananas shortly after developing a fruit.
The duo says that they are yet to establish the source of the
disease. Emmanuel Tumuramye, a farmer and Ibanda village LC1 Chairman in
Nyarushanje sub-county, says that the disease broke out about four months back
and has almost spread to every banana plantation in the sub-county.
He says that the disease comes at a time when the
farmers had started jubilating and reaping big after defeating the Banana
Bacteria Wilt disease. Tumuramye says that he has already identified about 15
infected plants in his garden that have already turned black. He says that
unless Agriculture officials rush to their rescue, banana farming will drop
completely and affect the survival of several families.
//Cue in: “The big problem…
Cue out: ….of food.”//
//Cue in: “ekizibu kihango munonga…
Cue out: ….biraza kuhwaho.”//
Bagahe Tumwebaze, a farmer from Bihishamwiika
village in Bunono parish also in Nyarushanje sub-county, says that the disease
is new, since it is the first time it is affecting bananas in the area.
He says that buyers are shunning the bananas because of their funny look
and taste after being cooked.
//Cue in; “hati hariho endijo…
Cue out: ….abahingyiisa tibakeijire.”//
Michael Musiime, the Nyarushanje Sub County LC 3
Chairperson, says that they
have resorted to feeding the affected bananas to
pigs, which at times refuse to eat them because of the bad taste.
to Musiime, the disease is causing him a huge financial loss because he
currently sells 10 bunches of bananas compared to between 70 and 80
bunches he would sell before the outbreak four months ago.
//Cue in; “banana plantations are….
Cue out; …in losses.”//
//Cue in; “nkaguranza omu rutookye…
Cue out; ….nyingyi munonga.”//
Zepher Karyaija, the Rukungiri District
Production and Marketing Officer told our reporter on phone on Tuesday that his
office is aware of the rust thrips disease outbreak in the district. He explained that the rust thrips are small yellow
insects with narrow fringed wings, which feed on the green surface of the
Karyaija said that although some of the affected bananas can be
eaten despite lacking palatability, buyers cannot buy them because they don’t
look clean. He called for calm from farmers, saying that the National
Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL-Kawanda) is conducting
investigations on the disease.
He advised the farmers in the meantime to use traditional
methods of fighting the disease by cutting the affected banana fruits
and bury them to reduce the population of the insects in the fields as well
as removing neglected plantations.