Uganda’s new drive to curb banana wilt

SCIENTISTS at the Uganda's National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) have launched a new campaign dubbed ‘ABCC strategy’ aimed at curbing the spread of banana bacterial wilt.

ABCC, which stands for Avoid, Break, Cut and Clean encourages farmers to avoid introducing the disease into their fields and break off male buds promptly using a forked stick whether they have the disease or not.

It also tells farmers to cut and bury infected plant and kill sprouts in addition to always cleaning their cutting tools used to destroy infected plants using a detergent such as Jik or flame them before re-use.

“The Ministry of Agriculture is finalising the formulation of rules that will guide local governments to come up with bye laws to promote the strategy,” said Janat Mukwaya, the agriculture minister while launching the campaign in Kimenyedde sub-county, Mukono recently.

The campaign is supported by the Government, Agricultural Sector Programme Support (ASPS) of DANIDA, USAID and the ECOTRUST and will run for six weeks on FM radio stations.

Speaking at his office in Kampala, the assistant commissioner of crop protection, Okasai Opolot, said previous campaigns helped to avert the further spread of the disease in the country.

“We anticipate that when people take the ABCC campaign seriously, the disease will cease to be a problem in the country,” he added.
Banana bacterial wilt is affecting 33 districts.

Since March 2005, outbreaks of the wilt have been recorded in Masaka, Mbarara, Ntugamo and Bushenyi plus DR Congo and Rwanda.

“The disease has been controlled in Masaka, Mbarara, Bushenyi and success stories are emerging from Mukono and Kayunga, where the disease started,” said Okasai.

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