Banana Bacterial wilt (BBW) was first reported in 2005 in Southwestern Uganda, the region that produces more than 60% of Uganda’s bananas annually (Kalyebara et al., 2006). BBW prevalence was kept below 5% between 2005 and 2008 (Kubiriba et al 2012). This was due to combined use of farmer field schools and Integrated Agricultural Research for development (IAR4D) using cultural practices focusing on the communities supported by the subcounty and district action plans. In 2010, BBW prevalence in the region increased to 34% due to incomplete and distorted information reaching the farmers; inadequate systems for surveillance of the disease and inadequate mobilization of stakeholders to control the disease. In 2012, the strategy for BBW control changed to formulating BBW control action plans focusing on the region (10 districts of the Ankole region) rather than the community (100-300 farmers) by a mix of stakeholders from the region (farmers, political leaders, extension officers and administrators). Then the action plans of districts and subcounties were designed to achieve the goal of the regional action plan, rather than to support community action plans. The overall implementation of the regional plan was spearheaded and coordinated by the regional taskforce, instituted by regional stakeholders. In August, 2012, 93.4% of the farmers in selected hotspots had over 20 infected plants in their fields. By June 2013, BBW had been controlled in over 90% and over 70% of the previously affected fields in 6 and 3 hotspots respectively.
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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