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Potato Bacterial Wilt In Rwanda: Occurrence, Risk Factors, Farmers’ Knowledge And Attitudes

F. Uwamahoro, A. Berlin, C. Bucagu, H. Bylund, J. Yuen
Published 2018 · Economics

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Potato is an important food commodity and efforts to increase its productivity should focus on addressing production limiting factors. Potato bacterial wilt (PBW) caused by Ralstonia solanacearum is one of the major constraints to potato production in Rwanda and no single method effectively controls the disease. Development of a sustainable management approach requires understanding of PBW distribution, risk factors, farmers’ knowledge and management attitudes. Therefore, we surveyed PBW disease and interviewed farmers in eight districts of Rwanda during March–April 2015. We detected PBW in all the surveyed districts and it was ranked as the major potato disease constraint. Among districts, disease incidence and severity varied from 5 to 24% and 3 to 13%, respectively, and was significantly higher in minor compared to major potato growing districts. Low PBW incidence and severity were associated with high altitude and low planting density, intercropping, crop rotation and avoidance of sharing farm tools. In all districts, farmers had little knowledge about PBW detection and spread, and the farmers’ awareness of PBW management was often inconsistent with their practices. This incomplete knowledge about PBW was likely caused by inadequate extension services since most information about PBW was acquired from fellow farmers, parents or other relatives. Thus raising awareness of PBW and integrated disease management, including practices that are associated with low PBW, could limit the impact of this disease and help to secure food and income for potato growing farmers in Rwanda.
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