Burundi banana blight breakout
The disease, known as 'Banana Xanthomonas Wilt', was initially found in November last year near the Tanzanian border in the Cankuzo province, Ministry of Agriculture plant protection officer Adelin Girukwishaka told the website.
The banana is a staple part of the Burundian diet and is consumed in many forms, ranging from a cooked lunch with beans to banana beer.
"Banana plants cover the biggest cultivated areas and represent more than 60 percent of the population's income. If the banana is affected [by this disease], it will not only mean great problems for farmers but also a socio-economic problem for Burundi," Girukwishaka was quoted as saying.
While the disease had spread rapidly in six months, Celestin Niyongere from the government's Research Institute for Agronomic Sciences told the website banana blight grew slowly with some varieties. This did not mean however that growers of some varieties could relax.
"No variety resists the disease even if there are some varieties more sensitive than others," he was quoted as saying.
"This is the case with the banana variety grown in Cibitoke, Makamba and Rutana; they can be totally decimated in a few months."
Agrobiotech head Theodomir Bigirumuhirwa said the only solution for an infected plantation was to cut off all infected plants, the story reported.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has sought to raise funds to support farmers in disease prevention and eradication, while the Burundian Government plans to distribute 750,000 disease-free banana shoots, the story reported.
Photo: www.irinnews.org/ David Gough