Jun 30, 2009

Cassava disease hits Kibaale

Kibaale production staff inspect an infected cassava garden in Kagadi

CASSAVANEWS. to follow Ismael Kasooha on New Vision - Kampala,Uganda Sunday, 28th June, 2009 OVER 100 acres of cassava have been destroyed by disease in more than five sub-counties in Kibaale district.

Peter Sentayi, the officer in charge of disease control, said he suspected the disease to be brown streak disease, for which he had no immediate remedy.

When it occurs in a garden, it can damage over 95% of the crops, Sentayi explained.

“The disease covers the leaves of the plants and cuts off light so photosynthesis cannot take place. This leads to the drying of the cassava,” Sentayi added.

Inspecting affected gardens in Kibanga I Cell in Kagadi town council last week, Sentayi said the outbreak was the first of its kind in Kibaale district and was spreading fast.
Omuhereza Amulinda of Kibanga in Kagadi town council lost his entire five-acre cassava garden.

Amulinda said the disease had been spreading for five months but farmers had not recognised it, thinking that a change in weather had caused the blackening of the cassava leaves and stems.

Amulinda told The New Vision that when a cassava plant is attacked, the tubers cannot develop and eventually the entire crop dries up from the bottom upwards.

“The disease has left us in tears. Hunger is definitely looming because we had thought of having adequate food with the cassava we planted.”

Sentayi said the disease was spread by tiny white flies which move in large numbers and multiply rapidly.
He asked affected farmers not to weed their gardens to avoid spreading the disease further. He urged them to be patient as his office consults the National Agriculture Research Organisation for a remedy.

He asked farmers planning to plant cassava next season to search for disease-resistant species.

He said some improved cassava varieties had not been attacked by the disease. He called for the adoption of modern planting materials in order to ensure food security.

Sentayi appealed to farmers in areas where the disease has not been sited to be vigilant and report any signs to his office immediately.

The disease has affected Muhorro, Bwikara, Kyanaisoke, Mpeefu and Kagadi sub-counties, as well as Kagadi town council in Kibaale district.

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