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Banana disease leaves thousands hungry

6th February 2013
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Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives Deputy Minister, Adam Malima

Over  8,000 people in 15 villages in Kagera region are in dire need of relief food following the outbreak of banana bacteria disease that has destroyed 90 per cent of their farms.

Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives Deputy Minister, Adam Malima told the National Assembly here yesterday that most of the affected villages are in Nyakatanga, Rutolo, Muhutwe, Mayondwi, Kagoma, Kasarunga and Burangula.

“These people need at least 266 tonnes of relief food to reduce the impact of hunger in the area in the next three months,” the deputy minister said.

He was responding to Charles Mwijage (Muleba North, CCM), who wanted to know why the government has been reluctant to use scientific approach to address the disease, which has destroyed almost 90 per cent of the banana crop in Kagera region.

Malima admitted that bananas are the staple food for people of Kagera Region and Muleba in particular, but most were trapped in hunger following the outbreak of the destructive banana disease.

According to Malima, the government has already allocated 300 tonnes of maize to be distributed to the needy people in the area.

BBW is caused by Bacterium Xanthomona campestris pv musacearum, and is affecting all types of bananas. It also makes banana leaves turn yellowish as well as causing premature yellowing of bananas.

He however explained that BBW, is the disease that has spread from as far as Uganda and was diagnosed for the first time in September 2005 in Kabare village of Muleba district.

“Right now the disease has spread in all districts of Kagera Region and is also affecting Tarime district in Mara Region, Ukerewe in Mwanza and Kibondo in Kigoma,” Malima said.

The minister also stated a team of experts will be dispatched in the area to address the problem.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN