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Rwandan farmers alarmed by disease ravaging mango crops

Farmers in Rwamagana District have expressed concern over a disease outbreak that has attacked their mango plants. Sooty Mould is a disease, recognisable by the presence of a black fungi on the leaf surfaces. In severe cases the trees will turn completely black due to the presence of mould over its entire surface of twigs and leaves.

Now, December to March normally is peak season for mangoes but the farmers predict that, based on the current output, production is likely to dwindle compared to previous seasons.

Eugene Gisagara, a farmer from Bwiza Cell, in the Kigabiro Sector, told The New Times that his entire mango plantation, which covers two hectares, has been hit by the virus. In his first season as a mango farmer, he harvested five tonnes, and in the second more than nine tonnes. Now he’s anticipating a drop of more than 50 per cent.

Some parts of Kayonza District, especially those neighbouring Rwamagana, are also affected.  “People who have traditional trees in their farms do not apply pesticides. You can see that they do not care much,” Gisagara added. “The disease is like the armyworm [which affects maize]: when one farmer applies insecticides and the neighbour doesn’t, the disease spreads again.”

Gisagara called on district authorities to launch a campaign to convince farmers to apply pesticides or cut the infected trees. He also appealed to the National Agriculture Exports Board (NAEB) for help. He was told to write an official letter requesting for pesticides, he said.

Vestine Mukasakindi, a fruit vendor in Rwamagana market, said they have resorted to selling imported mangoes from Tanzania due to shortage of supply from local producers.

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