Banana growers in Rungwe district - in Tanzania’s Mbeya region - have been called upon to report whenever they discover and disease infecting the crop so as to increase production.
The advice was issued by a researcher on fruits and vegetables from Tanzania Agricultural research Institute Uyole centre (TARI-Uyole) Daud Mbongo when speaking to farmers in Kisondolea Ward in Rungwe district. He said the crop that depends by about 30 per cent of Tanzania for food and fruit needs extra care for it to grow well.
Mbongo added that there have been challenges in caring for the banana crop because many growers there lack knowledge for better banana growing. "Banana trees often get infected by various diseases including weevils, mealy bugs and even monkeys that eat the fruit that ripen in the fields, hence growers have to seek experts advice to fight the diseases.”
He said weevils are organism that cannot be seen by human eye and live in the soil and attack the roots, making it to take up water and nutrients from the soil to the stem.
Mbongo said there are various ways to tackle the weevils including clearing the field at all times and by not uprooting wet stumps for planting elsewhere.
The director of TARI-Uyole, Dr Tulole Bucheyeki, told farmers that the centre is creating various farming technologies for the improvement of their incomes and called on them to continue visiting the centre for better farming methods.
The banana plant is one of the cash crops in the country though its survival in farm fields is now being threatened by pests and diseases which keep emerging due to climate change challenges. This is driving some of the varieties off farmer's lists since it is becoming less profitable due to low yields. The plant is a staple food in East and Central Africa and provides approximately 20 per cent of the total calorie consumed per capita.
As explained on ippmedia.com, Uganda and Tanzania are the two main producers of bananas in the region, mainly through the cultivation of the East African Highland bananas (EAHB).