Livestock urine fights banana diseases in Uganda

Ugandan farmers are embracing a traditionally cheaper therapy of soaking banana buds in livestock urine before planting as banana diseases and pests take toll on a crop that provides income and food to over 85 percent of East Africans.

Fuelled by the skyrocketing prices of conventional pesticides, the seemingly innovative Matoke farmers vowed not to be deterred by the emerging farming challenges especially pests and disease.  Andrew Sanyu is among the determined farmers who have mastered this low cost pest and disease control method. “Urine therapy was initiated by our fore fathers and is a unique way of safeguarding our crops from pests and diseases especially bananas, coffee and even tomatoes. It’s an affordable means provided that one has some livestock especially cows whose urine is collected for the exercise, explained Sanyu.

The middle aged farmer who hails from Mukono is proud about the discovery and noted that apart from keeping pests and diseases at bay, the solution has also helped his crops attain healthy growth and even increase on the yields.

In order to successfully adopt the practice, a farmer who has cows is needed to design his cowshed in a way that he can successfully collect the urine. Sanyu has mastered this art given that he has built the shed in a slanting way. The floor is cemented and near the rear edge, a channel has been dug leading to a collection hole which is fitted witted with a bucket. The urine then collects in the bucket and Sanyu takes the collection every morning.

The urine is then mixed with ash to make a mixed solution. “The amount of ash depends on the amount of urine but one should ensure that the ash is not too much to make a very thick mixture. The solution is then left to ferment for a fortnight.” According to him, the ash is used to purify the urine by killing any disease carrying pathogen and also to reduce the acidity, within the urine. “If you sprinkle the fresh urine to the crops then majority of them may wither because of the high acidity levels in it hence this process is vital for anyone who wants to get the best results,” added Sanyu.

After fourteen days the solution is presumed ready for use despite the sharp smell it may have. According to Sanyu, a dedicated farmer does not mind about the dirt and odour smell which are part of the practice. I only mind about the wellbeing of my crops and animals hence the sharp smell does not bother me because I already know the returns the solution promises me.

The solution’s use to every crop is different. For instance for the leafy crops like coffee, kales and tomatoes, one can use a grass broom to sprinkle it onto the crops. Sanyu also explained that the exercise should be done weekly in case the crops are not yet affected, But in case the crops are already infested then its ideal that one sprinkles the solution daily preferably early in the morning or late in the evening.

In case of banana, the procedure is different as the solution is used on the buds before planting. The buds that are carefully chosen for planting are inserted into the solution and left to stay there for at least one week. “The buds will suck the solution from the base through osmosis up its main stream in the stem. The solution’s entry into the buds’ body helps kill any disease causing pathogen.

This eventually cleanses the crop making it resistant to bacterial and fungal diseases.” According to him, the bananas that have undergone this therapy before planting are always healthy, disease resistant and high yielding. “Most of the bananas which haven’t undergone similar therapy have exhibited stunted growth, yellowing of leaves, drying and even low quality fruits,” added Sanyu.