The alarming spread of banana Xanthomonas wilt in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and its impact on food security and income


Xanthomonas wilt of banana (caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum) is an unforgiving disease. Rather than merely reducing yield, as do many diseases, it causes the fruit to ripen prematurely and rot. Since 2001, the disease has spread to several countries in east and central Africa. It was first observed in the territory of Masisi, 72 km northwest from Goma in North Kivu Province, DR-Congo in 2001. During a survey conducted in May 2006 in the framework of the USAID-funded Crop Crisis Control Project (C3P), Xanthomonas wilt was also observed in the Mahagi and Irumu territories, Oriental province (north-eastern DR-Congo close to the border with Uganda) and in the region between Beni (north Kivu, DR-Congo) and Bundibugyo (western Uganda). Here the disease had most likely spread from infected areas across the border in Uganda. It had also spread over an area with a 50 km radius in Kitchanga, Masisi, North Kivu. A survey conducted in May 2008 in the framework of the Belgian-funded project CIALCA, reported that Xanthomonas wilt had entered South Kivu (Minova, Kalehe territory). In north Kivu the disease is currently present in the districts of Masisi, Rutshuru, Beni, Nyiragongo and Walikale and in Oriental province the disease is currently present in the Mahagi and Irumu districts. The disease has thus spread over an area more than 600 km long (north-south axis). At least two million people in eastern DR-Congo are impacted by this disease which threatens food security and farm income. The most important means of dissemination are infected planting materials, contaminated farm tools and insect vector transmission. Extension efforts to contain the spread of Xanthomonas wilt are hampered by insecurity and inaccessibility of large parts of eastern DR-Congo.


Tree and Forestry Science and Biotechnology 2010 Vol.4 No.2 pp.56-59


Disease distribution map, North Kivu, South Kivu, food security, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo