Analysis of costs associated with control of banana xanthomonas wilt (BXW) in Mukono and Luwero Districts, Uganda
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Bananas are a major food crop, with Uganda as the second largest producer in the world and largest producer in Africa. The crop which is mainly grown at subsistence level provides food all year round and is known to be profitable. Its production in the last five years has reduced by seven percent as a result of reduction in soil fertility and pests and diseases such as Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW). The disease that was first discovered in Uganda in 2001 causes high yield losses. Control of the disease has centred on cultural control with five approaches being promoted. These include removal of male bud, sterilising of farm tools, cutting of infected plants in-situ, rouging of whole mats infected with the disease and replanting of disease free suckers in uninfected fields. In spite of farmers reporting the control measures as simple, less than 35 percent used them. Inputs associated with use of these methods have been advanced the reason for low use. However, the cost of inputs used has not been quantified. A survey was conducted in Luwero and Mukono districts on 230 farmers. The paired t test was used to compare the costs and revenues banana farmers’ incurred to control BXW using different recommended practices. The difference in observed and perceived costs of using these approaches was compared using the Z statistic. WLS regression was run to determine the relationship between the combinations of BXW controls practices used and income from banana production. The net revenue for controlling BXW was found to be lower than that when control measures are not in use. It does not imply that BXW control should not be encouraged. This is because the data was collected during one period of time and yet bananas are a perennial crop. The output from the recovery of banana plantations when control measures were instituted is not expected to be high initially due to high disease control cost per unit area and the disease is not completely eradicated. As control measures are continuously used, the condition of the plantation stabilizes as the cost of controlling BXW drops due to less or no diseased plant. Increased profits from continued control of BXW are seen from the positive gross revenue when the recommended BXW control is used, which is 72 percent higher than that when farmers did not use the control measures. But when a farmer does not control BXW, the disease wipes out the whole plantation over time. Thus the farmer over time will receive no benefit due to the total loss in output. Though prompt control is advised, the initial costs are high, but farmers will benefit from BXW control in time. WLS regression results showed that the cutting of infected mats in situ, replanting using clean planting material in uninfected fields and removal of a male bud when used in combination (cluster 2) increased banana revenue per hectare by 90 percent compared to when rouging whole mats was done in combination with the other two approaches in cluster 2. Efforts to control BXW should be furthered since they are beneficial. They should encompass encouraging farmers to use combinations of methods in cluster 2 and the use of soil amendments based on the cost of technology and targeted. In addition the provision of subsided planting materials, further research to determine the period when farmers will begin to reap from BXW is control advised.
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