Panama disease also known as fusarium wilt is a serious problem of banana production in Western, Nyanza, Eastern, Coast and Central regions in Kenya. The disease not only affects “apple” bananas but also other varieties such as Gros Michel, Bogoya, Bokoko and silk and can wipe out the entire crop.
The disease is caused by the fusarium fungus which survives in the soil and on plant waste. It enters the plant through root damages before spreading to the whole plant via the stem.
Signs of the disease include yellowing of leaves starting with the oldest leaves while some droo, become brown and die. In some cases the outer leaf sheaths of the stem may split longitudinally near the soil level.
In this case, the affected plant won’t develop adequately for a mature bunch to be produced and the disease can cause total crop loss.
To control the disease, ensure there is no movement of planting materials from affected regions to other areas occurs. Burning and burying all diseased crop residues and practicing crop rotation ensure the fungus die.
Disinfect any farm implement used for pruning banana stools.
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Alternatively, plant resistant banana varieties such as GT, Prata, Manyatta, Soth, Exera and Kifutu Mysore
Uproot all panama disease affected “Sukari Ndizi” stools and replace with any of the resistant varieties named above.
According to a 2014 research by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the disease is mainly cause by poor knowledge and perception among growers on the impact, infection cycle and management tactics. Lack of certified planting materials is also a challenge.