Site icon The Times Group Malawi

Banana disease still terrorising

The Department of Agricultural Research Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has said it is worried about the alarming rate at which Banana Bunchy Top Virus disease is spreading.

The disease which is transmitted by aphids has, according to the department, reduced banana production by half in the country.

The department has therefore advised farmers to uproot the old and affected banana plants and replace them with disease-free plants currently being distributed across the country.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director of Agriculture Research Services Tony Maulana has said the government has introduced screening service in all the ports to avoid further spread of the disease into the country.

Speaking in an interview on Thursday, Maulana, who is also Lunyangwa Agriculture Research Station Manager in Mzuzu, said the disease has affected many farmers, especially in Nkhata Bay.

“It is sad that the production of banana has reduced by 50 percent in the country. Tanzania is currently supplying the banana into the country.

“However, we have established offices in some borders for input and export screening as one of the mitigation moves of the disease. This will also help to control further spread [of the disease] to other parts of the country as well as other viruses that come into the country from neighbouring countries,” he said.

Maulana, however, said the only setback on the exercise is the country’s porous borders.

“People just carry goods into the country using uncharted routes. We cannot manage to control them.

“Intermarriages are also affecting the fight against the entry of the disease. This is so because families move anyhow. We can only control the situation if everybody is patriotic and allows farm products to be screened,” he said.

The disease, according to Maulana, was discovered in Nkhata Bay in 1992. However, farmers have been ignoring advice that they should uproot the affected plants and replace them with healthy ones a thing that has resulted in their producing low quality bananas.

Maulana said there is danger that production rate may be reduced further if farmers do not adhere to expert advice.  

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Exit mobile version