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Burundi hit by banana disease, faces food insecurity

Burundi is beset by a banana blight that has spread to several sections of the country, according to IRIN News.

"In January 2011, the disease was reported in the eastern province of Ruyigi and Makamba in the south; the disease has also been identified at Cibitoke and Bujumbura Rural provinces," Adelin Girukwishaka, a plant protection officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, told the news source.

Farmers are reporting the difference in yields before and after the disease struck. A normal healthy plant can be 5 meters wide, but a diseased banana plant gives very little yield.

One of the solutions currently underway is education for the farmers about what to do to prevent the spread of the banana blight. Removing male buds from the plant can prevent the spread of the disease via insects such as bees.

Burundi does not have many resources, according to the CIA World Factbook. Its agriculture sector takes up 93.6 percent of the labor force and 68 percent of the population is living below the poverty line.
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