Museveni advises Busoga leaders on banana disease

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By Donald Kiirya

President Yoweri Museveni has challenged local leaders in Busoga sub-region to sensitize farmers on control measures for the Banana Bacterial Wilt (BBW) disease that has affected banana growing in the region and Uganda at large.

Museveni cited one of the most effective measures as ensuring that garden tools used on BBW-affected plants are not used on other plants unless disinfected.
 
He was speaking while opening a two-day meeting for leaders from Busoga region on the fight against BBW at Crested Crane Hotel in Jinja.
 
The meeting, organized by the office of the President under its Presidential Initiative to fight BBW, was attended by chief administrative officers, members of parliament, district LC 5 chairpersons, sub-county chairpersons, NAADS coordinators, district internal security officers and resident district commissioners from the ten districts of Busoga.
 
“This disease is similar to HIV/AIDS in human beings; it is spread when farm tools used for cutting infected plants are used to cut uninfected plants. Once it attacks the banana plants, it makes them rot and ooze a nasty smell, causing the suckers to smell like pus from human wounds but there are three methods that you can use in controlling this disease.
 
“Do not move cutting tools and infected plant parts to other gardens, cut, heap or bury infected plants in the same plantation, flame farm tools in fire or clean them with Jik,” Museveni advised.
 
He added that those who can afford using Jik should mix one bottle of Jik into five bottles of water in order to disinfect the tools while those who may not afford it can use fire flames.
 
Museveni revealed that the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) recently developed and released a new banana variety with features that block the BBW disease transmitted by insects. He however noted that it does not prevent BBW to spread through wounding tools.
 
On his sensitization campaign, the president had held similar meetings with farmers in Kigezi and Buganda and is yet to meet those in Bugisu, Bunyoro, Tooro and Gulu.
 
“I also urge you to continue with the campaign to increase house-hold income and food security; empower the communities so that the community empowers the economy,” he said, further advising farmers with big chunks of land to engage in enterprise selection in order to reduce on the poverty level.
 
“If a farmer has four acres of land, advise them to grow Colonal coffee. If grown well, a farmer can earn over sh5m from one acre per year, utilize the second acre in growing fruits like oranges, avocado, mangoes and passion because there is market for the produce."
 
Local leaders Moses Balyeku (MP Jinja Municipality West), Peter Ogwang (Eastern Youth MP) and Fredrick Gume Ngobi the L.C V chairperson, in a side interview promised to continue mobilizing farmers so that they sensitize them about the control of the disease.
 
Wilberforce Tushemereirwe, a program leader under the National Banana Research Program at NARO said the BBW originated from Ethiopia and was first found in Ensete and Banana.
 
He explained that it was first reported in Mukono district in 2001 and by the 2008 it was in all districts of Uganda.

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