Bacteria wilt gives banana farmers sleepless nights

Wednesday August 5 2020


Banana farmers are calling on agronomists to control spread of disease. Photo | Cyril Ndegeya  

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Banana farmers have called on agronomists to control bacterial wilt, locally known as Kirabiranya, which is currently spreading in Eastern province.

According to the farmers, the loss causing bacteria has re-emerged in the parts of Gatsibo district, with an average land of nearly 100 hectares already destroyed.

“I have two 10 acres of gros-michel plantation and the plants are turning yellow, which is a common symptom for the bacteria,” said Canisius Ruzigande, a resident of Gitoki sector in Gatsibo district.

“We commonly identify the affected plants when leaves start turning yellow," said Ruzigande.
According to farmers, the bacteria causes stunted growth and failure to flower in younger plants, while in flowering plants, the bacteria causes filling failure.

“When cut internally, the calm pseudostem and fruit stalk, there is tissue decolouration from pale to dark red. How-ever, in some cases, the longitudinal pseudostem of the infected plant could split at the base,” said Ruzigande, who is also a farmer mobiliser.

While most of the parts of Eastern parts of the country are covered by a banana plantation, they more often affected by the bacteria, which currently have no fight off mechanisms.


With the disease keeps re-emerging, the farmers call on the governmental agronomists to come up with the cure for the diseases, which halts the banana farming for three years in affected areas after destroying the plantation.

“I have lost two hectares of my banana plantation to the disease last year, and I have uprooted all of them and I haven’t yet substitute them even though banana farming is one of the benefiting crops in the area” Etienne Ndayiragije, a resident of Gatsibo district.

“We would like to get treatment because once your plantation is affected you have to get rid of all of it and wait for three years to revive your plantation again,” he added.

In Gastibo district, which is one of the largest producers and distributors of banana, the agronomists in eastern province indicate that the banana production has been widely dropped due to the disease.

Vianney Murenzi, the agronomist in Kayonza district, the disease has seen the sizable plantation of banana lost.

“Production dwindle is evident because the diseases has destroyed our plantation. At least 35 per cent production reduction has been recorded in our area,” said Mr Murenzi.