Abstract: Xanthomonas campestris pv.musacrearum causes Banana wilt disease (BXW disease) which occurs at different epidemic phases in East and Central Africa (ECA). In the endemic areas, there are many banana fields with over 80% BXW disease incidence. This study aimed at rehabilitating banana fields heavily infected with BXW disease in Uganda, Kenya and DR. Congo. Farmer managed trials were established in BXW disease hotspots in western Kenya and DR. Congo, while in Uganda, similar trials were established at community level i.e. clusters of at least 200 heavily infected banana fields. The control options evaluated included single stem removal, suspension of pruning in affected fields, male bud removal and disinfection of tools with fire or Sodium hypochlorite. Data was collected on the proportion of affected fields (BXW disease prevalence), BXW disease incidence and the number of banana bunches sold at 3-month intervals. BXW disease incidence was reduced by over 80% in 11 months in Kenya and DR. Congo, resulting in yield recovery by up to 70% within one year. In Uganda, the proportion of farmers that effectively controlled BXW disease increased 5% to 60% within a year in some hotspots. Consequently banana sales recovered up to 30% in some hotspots. This study demonstrates that it is possible to effectively control BXW disease within 12 months in previously severely infected fields in various areas of ECA.

Keywords: BXW disease incidence and prevalence, control options, yield and sales recovery

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The vast majority of the bananas currently grown and consumed were not conventionally bred but are selections made over probably thousands of years from naturally occurring hybrids. Cultivated bananas are very nearly sterile and as a consequence are not propagated from seed but rather through vegetative propagation, primarily suckers as well as more recently micropropagated or tissue cultured bananas. These factors, very old selections, near sterility and vegetative propagation, mean that these bananas have not been genetically improved either for resistance or improved quality and are becoming increasing in affected by serious pests and diseases.

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