Bioversity International: research for development in agricultural and tree biodiversity

Working with farmers to fight crop disease

15 Mar 2017

Livelihoods in East and Central Africa are seriously threatened by Banana Xanthomonas Wilt, a devastating disease causing up to 100% yield loss and severely damaging the livelihoods and food security of banana farming households across the region. In Uganda, with the help of the McKnight Foundation, Bioversity International has strengthened the capacity of hundreds of farmers to better manage the disease.

Simple practices such as destroying the infected plants, removing the male buds, and disinfecting farm tools are very effective measures against Banana Xanthomonas Wilt, one of the biggest threats to East and Central Africa’s bananas. Bioversity International and partners gave farmers the opportunity to learn these practices and other disease-management options through regional meetings, farmer exchange visits, and farmer field schools.

While these practices were effective in controlling the disease on-station, they were not immediately adopted by farmers. Bioversity International and its partners modified their approach, developing a new strategy called 'Learning and Experimentation Approaches for Farmers'. As a result of more effective disease control practices, the average farm yield has increased from 5-10 bunches per acre per week to 15-20 bunches, allowing farmers to sell more bananas in the market and gain financial stability for their families and communities.

Read more in the McKnight grantee spotlight story: How to Combat a Devastating Crop Disease? Hint: Involve Farmers