Publication date: Wednesday, 14th July, 2004

SOLUTION: All infected bananas must be cut down and uprooted to prevent new suckers

By Ronald Kalyango

THE National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) has started training farmers how to control the deadly Banana Bacterial Wilt (BBW) where it is rampant.

It also intends to guide farmers how to prevent it in the districts where it has not spread. While addressing residents of Bamunanika and Zirobwe sub-counties, Dr. Norah Odoyi, a Kawanda-based banana researcher, said the best way of averting the wilt is by breaking off all the male flower buds as soon as the fruits have formed.

“If the disease appears, cut down the stem and dig up all the affected plant so that it does not produce any new suckers then dig a hole where the plant was growing and bury all of the pieces completely,” she advised. She said if a farmer cannot dig a hole and bury the pieces, then he should heap them into a mound, cover them with leaves and leave them to rot for at least six months before disturbing the mound. “After cutting a diseased plant or digging in the locality you must sterilise the tools to avoid carrying the infection to other plants. Wipe them thoroughly with a dilute disinfectant such as jik or alcohol like waragi or heat them up in a fire.

Odoyi urged local farmers to be vigilant and not allow farmers to introduce infected planting materials in their own plantations.

However, reports coming in from other parts of the country indicate that Kiboga district has been devastated by the disease and the infected planting material came from several villages in Bukomero sub-county.

The disease known to have begun in Bulyanti village, Kyabaala parish, in Mukono district in September 2001 has spread to 19 districts and

is spreading fast but NARO is effectively handling the situation.

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  • Programme Overview
  • BBP Research Projects
  • Key Achievements

This programme handles three critical research areas; genetic resources conservation, biological control and biotechnology tools applications to agricultural development in Uganda. The programme


Plant genetic resources :  are one of the most important assets for achieving Uganda’s development goals including poverty eradication, food security, medical and industrial advancement. They are hence a key ingredient in the nation’s transformation process. These resources are however threatened by expanding human activity like agriculture, herbal industry, deforestation and mining but also climate change leading to loss of precious plant diversity. There is strategic need to secure, study and make readily available these resources for sustainable use.

Biological control as an environmentally safer option of managing crop pests and disease vectors: The use of biological agents as an alternative to chemical pesticides to control insect pests, vectors, plant diseases and noxious weeds in crop production systems is an area we are already taking very seriously. Use of synthetic chemical pesticides in intensive crop production has caused socio-economic problems. There are increasing reports of pesticide resistance and residue in export commodities. Some of the problems related to pests and diseases can only be effectively tamed through application of biotechnological tools to improve the commodities or contain the causal organisms thereby increasing prospects for food and income security in Africa.

Biotechnology refers to the exploitation of biological resources in a wide range of novel processes to modify living organisms for products and services needed for human use. Biotechnology tools for plant disease testing, tissue-culture and genetic transformation are being developed to enhance agricultural production in areas where traditional methods have not been successful. The development of enzyme and DNA based testing methods in for crop diseases; plant tissue culture systems for a range of crops such as banana, coffee, potato, and high value spices have been

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Project 1. Conservation, enhanced management and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources

 Specific expected outputs:

Plant genetic resources sustainably conserved and utilized

 The potential of key plant genetic resources for economic benefit in Uganda including food, pharmaceaticals and crop improvement documented and promoted

In-situ conservation of crop diversity through the development os community seed banks and use of variety mixtires in reducing pest challneges on farm developed

Major traits, molecular markers and genes for resistance to environmental stress (temperature, moisture), disease, pest resistance and other productivity and nutrition improvements in plant genetic resources

Project 2 : Development and promotion of biocontrol and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems for control of major pests, plant diseases and noxious weeds for increased productivity, novel products and environmental protection.

Specific expected outputs:

Entomopathogens and insect spp. for insect pest control in maize, rice, cassava and citrus.

Novel IPM and bio-control strategies for management of the mango fruit flies and false codling moth (FCM) in capsicum (hot pepper).

Bio-control systems for management of invasive plant species such as the water hyacinth, Salvinia molesta (Kariba weed) and Parthenium hyterophorus

Conservation and evaluation of microbial and insect genetic resources through a functional microbial collection and insect museum at NARL 

Project 3: Development and promotion biotechnology approaches that enhance productivity and quality of plants and microbial products

Specific expected outputs:

Molecular  biology tools that enhannce the utilisation of crop and microbial resources including t ools for detecting pathogens

Transgenic ground nuts with resistance to a flatoxin causing Aspergillus and Fusarium species

In-Vitro collection, cryopreservation, regeneration, cell and tissue culture systems and  transformation systems for important genetic resources in Uganda

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Key achievements

National Plant Genetic Resource conservatory (genebank and botanical garden) with 4700 accessions of 510 species

National Plant Genetic Resource Policy and Strategy

Three community seed banks in Kabwohe, Nakaseke and Rubaya

Biological control of the cereal stem borer (Busseola fusca) with egg parasitoids

Mango fruit fly integrated pest management 

Plant transformation systems for millet, groundnut and passionfruit

Low cost tissue culture protocols and procedures to enhance the seed system of banana, coffee, and other high value crops

Tissue culture for domestication of two native medical plants and a seed system

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To be a centre of excellence generating and promoting appropriate agricultural technologies


To generate and promote agricultural technologies and improve productivity, value addition, income and food security


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