Preventing and mitigating the effects of enset wilt in Ethiopia
Enset (Enset ventricosum also known as ‘false banana’) is a source of food, cash, animal feed, medicine, sources of fuel wood and other products and services for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.
Enset Xanthomonas wilt (EXW) caused by bacterium Xanthomonas campestris is a major constraint to enset production in Ethiopia, endangering the livelihoods of millions of farmers and threatening the food security of over 15 million people for whom enset is a staple food.
In recent years, EXW has pushed farmers to reduce significantly enset cultivation, causing changes in cropping systems and dietary practices in enset growing areas. Of the diseases and pests facing farmers in Lemo woreda—EXW, enset root mealybug, leaf hopper, mole rat, porcupine, wild pigs, corm rot, and drought—EXW has had the greatest impact on enset production.
- 30% of enset crops were affected by EXW and 60% of respondents were able to identify the symptoms of the disease.
- 42% of farmers erroneously believed the disease was caused by the wind.
- While farmers correctly identified contaminated farm tools as a major source of EXW transmission, none had taken measures to prevent transmission. They expect chemicals would prevent the disease transmission.
- A systematic operational approach to EXW management should be adopted, including training on production and handling practices.