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National Agricultural Research Laboratories Uganda

Scientists find cause of disease that ravaged banana plantations in western Uganda last year

Scientists at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL), have said they have established what caused the disease that ravaged banana plantations in western Uganda last year. In their report, they stated that the disease is caused by insect pests called rust thrips.

“They (rust thrips) are small yellow insects with narrow fringed wings. The insects attack by feeding on the green surface on the banana fingers,” the report read. “The bananas appear brown, purplish to black. The discoloration is on the surface of the fruit peel. In extreme cases of severity, the whole bunch appears blemished.”

The scientists said in the report that the pests cause more severe damage to younger fruits. “Often the symptoms do not manifest until after two months as the fruits begin to mature. When the peel gets damaged as a result of feeding by thrips, the affected fruits first appear as grey and dusty, after turning rusty brown,” the scientists said in the report.

According to¸ the disease has so far been reported in 11 districts. Some farmers are, however, blaming the new breeds of bananas being introduced by the government as fuelling the emergence of pests and diseases.

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