Strange disease puzzles Kibuku orange farmers

Farmers check out oranges in Uganda in 2019. PHOTO/KELVIN ATUHAIRE

What you need to know:

  • The Kasasira Sub-county chairperson, Mr Christopher Mudangha, said: “The farmers have registered total loss due to a strange disease that attacked their gardens of oranges this season.” 

Farmers in the districts of Kibuku and Budaka in Bukedi Sub-region are counting losses following the outbreak of a strange disease that is ravaging oranges. 

Mr Moses Mpande, a resident of Nabiswa Village, Nabiswa Sub-county in Kibuku District, said his five acres of oranges have been affected by the disease in a short time.

“I expected to reap big this season to boost my income,” he said.
Mr Mpande said the disease, which they suspect could be orange scale, is spreading at an alarming rate.
Orange scale disease is caused by bacterium Xanthomonas Axonopodis. Its infection causes lesions on leaves, stems and fruit citrus trees.

“There are very few farmers who have not been affected but soon they will be because the way it’s spreading is worrying,” Mr Mpande said.

Another farmer, Mr Dan Mwaita, a resident of Kapyani III in Kasasira Sub-county, also said his three acres of oranges have been affected by the disease.

“I have spent more than Shs200,000 on procurement of drugs and technical advice from experts, but no change,”Mr Mwaita said.

The Kasasira Sub-county chairperson, Mr Christopher Mudangha, said: “The farmers have registered total loss due to a strange disease that attacked their gardens of oranges this season.” 

Mr Mudangha said he had directed the extension workers to carry out the assessment and see how best they can help the farmers.

“The district leadership should also intervene and make an assessment by visiting the affected farms ,” he said.
Ms Gettu Namukenge, the Kirika and Nabiswa sub-county agricultural extension worker, said the disease, which struck last month, has left farmers in despair.

“The biggest challenge is that even our farmers do not want to heed to our technical advice to control the rapid spread of the disease,” she said. 

Mr Godfrey Mugoga, the agriculture extension worker of Iki-Iki sub-county in Budaka District, said about 70 percent of orange farmers have so far been affected.

“But we have embarked on monitoring in order to avert further destruction,” he said, adding that the most affected farmers had refused to spray their gardens.

The Kibuku District production officer, Mr Michael Mbayo, said samples of the affected orange trees had been taken to various research centres but were yet to get a response.

The Budaka District agriculture officer, Mr Abner Botiri, said they have on several occasions encouraged farmers to adopt cultural practices to fight the disease burden but they had remained adamant. 

“We have always encouraged farmers to bury the affected oranges and prune the affected leaves to fight the disease burden but they had remained adamant,” he said. 

Mr Botiri, however, said the district has plans to procure about 100 litres of drugs which will be given to affected farmers. 

“But, the unfortunate part is that these drugs are quite little compared to the number of farmers,” Mr Botiri said. 

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