Farmers Register Low Yields as Bean Infection Ravages Kitgum Gardens


In short
He says the legume prematurely sheds off its leaves, flowers and pods after few days of yellowing. Shortly after, the stunted plant withers under the weight of the infection.

An unidentified disease has hit bean gardens in Kitgum Matidi sub county in Kitgum district raising fears of a poor harvest this season. However, the response from the extension staff is slow due to limited available staff and absence of a functional crop disease diagnostic laboratory.
The multimillion mini crop disease diagnostic laboratory is still under construction. Farmers say the blight has dashed their hopes for a bumper harvest this season. James Okello, a member of Wayele Pi Kwo Farmers’ group in Pakumu Jangyat Village says the disease attacks beans at the flowering stage of growth.
He says the legume prematurely sheds off its leaves, flowers and pods after few days of yellowing. Shortly after, the stunted plant withers under the weight of the infection.

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He says the worst affected the yellow beans, K132, Balm, Agwede and Kanyewa varieties among others. Okello who says he reaped more than 30 bags from three gardens he ploughed last year says he doesn’t expect 5 bags from his 20 acre piece of land.
He says although the infection has not discouraged farmers in his group from planting for second seasons, agriculturalists should intervene in the matter to save communities from famine.

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Okello says his group members who planted as early as April are also crying foul as well as those he interacted with in the neighbouring Lagoro Sub County, parts of Latanya and Nge Kidi villages in Pader and Agago districts. Bean produce form regular parts of meals of this community. Unfortunately many of the farmers practice traditional gardening involving the use of homemade seeds without proper management.

Alice Apoko, a NAADS farmer in Lalano village and a mother of five says both the homemade seeds and improved varieties supplied by NAADS affected by the infection.

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Apoko says her garden of the yellow beans she received from NAADS fell to a swarm of flies before the yellowing manifested. Shortly afterwards, the pods began to shrink under the weight of the infection.

Walter Komakech Oyo, the Kitgum Matidi sub County councilor says several cases have been reported across the sub county. According to Komakech, the infection struck at a time when all the NAADS extension staff had been stopped from operating under the presidential directive.
He says the absence of extension workers rendered the sub county vulnerable.

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Peter Abal, the Kitgum district production officer says the complaints are still under investigation. He says the presence of flies in the gardens might point to bean flies that lay their eggs in lower bean stems, effectively cutting water supply and nutrients to the leaves.

Without nutrients reaching the leaves, the leguminous plants can never manufacture food it requires to survive any longer. He explained that his office will dispatch extension staff to collect samples from the affected gardens for future analysis. In the meantime, the production officer advised farmers to spray the affected gardens with chemicals that can drive away flies. 


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.