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Banana Bacterial Wilt in Kenya
Banana is a major fruit crop in Kenya grown for both subsistence and commercial use. It is estimated to cover 74,000 hectares (about 2 % of total arable land), ranging from sea level to 1800 m above sea level. In terms of production, over a million tons are obtained per year. Nyanza and western provinces account for 64.4 % of production while Central and Eastern provinces account for 26 % of production. The crop is predominantly grown by small scale farmers who have an average holding of 0.3 hectares making up to 13 % of the total farm area. Recently banana has become an important cash crop for semi-intensive medium scale farmers who supply the urban markets in the country. The continued availability of harvestable bunch from a banana stool is especially important for these farmers who are mainly women because it contributes to the year round food security and income. The commonly grown varieties are East Africa Highland bananas and apple bananas in Western and Nyanza provinces, while Cavendish and Kampala types are common in Central and Eastern provinces.

After BXW outbreaks were reported in neighboring countries, KARI initiated the formation of a task force comprising of KARI, KEPHIS, Ministry of Agriculture and farmer representatives in 2004. The task force was linked to the regional BXW activities through representation in BARNESA. The task force met and organized a survey that was carried out by KARI in western Kenya. Through the task force, 3 KEPHIS staff attended training and planning workshops on BXW management in Uganda. After the confirmation of the absence of BXW, the task force has not met again. No incidences of BXW were observed. In the course of 2005 there was another report of a BXW outbreak in Western Kenya. This prompted another survey in Western and Nyanza Provinces in November 2005, by a team from KARI-Thika, IITA and INIBAP also did not find any BXW outbreaks. However, it was noted that banana trade, at the porous boundaries, is unregulated and thus infected materials could easily cross the border into Kenya. Most farmers were not aware of BXW but some agricultural and extension officers were aware of the BXW symptoms.

For BXW, there is a need to prepare the communities especially those living along the borders with Uganda and Tanzania to recognize disease and develop appropriate management measures that can reduce the introduction of the disease. This would include disease surveillance and awareness programmes
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