August 28, 2009

Disease threatens African banana fields

Drastic action is needed against two diseases attacking banana fields in Uganda and other African countries, scientists said.

It's a big danger because the affected areas have the banana as their staple crop, Christopher Chemirehreh, a spokesman for Uganda's Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute, told the BBC in a story published Friday.

The diseases -- bunchy top viral disease and bacterial wilt -- are spread by insects and few varieties of banana are resistant, the BBC reported.

Drastic and expensive control measures needed to counter the diseases include excavating entire banana fields and treating them with pesticides or burning the plants, scientists from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research said.

The diseases are affecting fields in Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Gabon, Angola and Malawi, the BBC reported.