By Victoria Nampala Bugembe
Many banana farmers around are making losses from their gardens because their plantations have been affected by Banana Bacterial Wilt (BBW).
The banana leaves dry up and turn yellow when they have just sprouted out. The Banana fruit also ripens before its actual time due to the effect of the bacteria.
Symptoms Banana Wilt
John Peter Biswanka, an agricultural extension officer says that, in a flowering banana plant, the first symptoms of insect transmission are a drying rot and blackening of the male bud, which start with the outer bracts and eventually extend to the rachis.
This is when the fruits ripen unevenly and prematurely, turning from green to yellow and black rapidly.
Means of transmission
The Banana plants get infected by Insects, farm tools, and infected planting materials.
Fresh wounds inflicted on a banana plant offer the bacteria a point through which they can either enter or leave the plant.
Jonathan Sanvura, an Agronomy student at Makerere University adds that an insect visiting an infected plant can get the bacteria on its body through a wound that displays a bacterium and it can transfer to a healthy plant.
Cutting tools like pangas, hoes, and knives also contribute to the transmission of Banana Wilt when used on an infected plant.
Biswanka cautions disinfecting such tools immediately after use to protect the farms.
Debudding. This involves removing the male bud after the fruits have been set to prevent insect transmission of the bacteria which must be applied using a forked stick instead of a knife.
Disinfecting or using clean tools by sterilizing the blade by putting it in the fire for about 20-30 seconds which can kill the bacteria.
The only solution is cutting off the diseased plant at the soil level, destroying emerging suckers, and leaving the storage organ to rot.