Mango farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region risk losing their investment as the dreaded Bacterial Black Spot (BBS) disease attacks their mango trees.
Information available to B&FT indicateS that most mango farms in major production areas like Kintampo, Atebubu, Nkoronza, Wenchi and Techiman have been affected by the devastating disease.
Sources say the outbreak of BBS disease in mango production is also rife in Yilo Krobo areas of the Eastern Region.
The BBS disease attacks mango and other tree crops such as cashew and citrus. It weakens the branches and causes damage so the fruit drops prematurely. The disease was first reported in the country somewhere around 2012, and it has since been living comfortably with tree-crop farmers – especially mango farmers.
Although the earnings from mango are much higher than cashew, some helpless farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region have started cutting down mango trees to plant cashew. Should the forced substitution continue, it is likely to cause a long-term shortage in supply of the fruit – particularly for processing companies.
Other desperate farmers wanting to maintain their mango plantations have resorted to spraying all manner of agro-chemicals – including unapproved ones; but this has not yielded any better result. The practice also has the tendency to cause high chemical residue in the fruit, which could threaten the health of unsuspecting mango consumers.
The situation necessitated a sensitization seminar for farmers in Kintampo to educate them about the BBS menace. The forum formed part of BUSAC Fund’s advocacy campaign to find lasting solutions that address the plight of mango farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Mr. Samuel Effa-Nimoh, Secretary of Kintampo Mango Farmers Association (KMFA), in an address lamented that the situation has reached alarming proportions as varieties like parma and keitt being cultivated by the farmers are too vulnerable to the BBS disease attack – hence the drastic reduction in yield.
“Before the outbreak of BBS disease in our area, I used to harvest about seven tonnes per acre of farm; but yields have now reduced to between one and three tonnes per acre. Some other farmers are unable to break-even at all,” he said.
According to him, ad hoc farm management practices such as good hygiene, proper pruning of affected branches, and use of copper-based fungicides introduced by the CSIR-CRI are not the ideal solution to the problem. He therefore appealed to agricultural research institutions to step up their activities and develop more disease-resistant varieties to help salvage mango production from the BBS assault.
Mango production in the country is not new to disease infestation. Some few years back, the horticulture crop was infested by fruit-flies. The fruit-fly menace was prevalent across the entire sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in a ban on mango from West Africa by major international mango markets like Europe, USA and South Africa. As the fruit-fly trouble gets under control, the BBS disease is taking over the mango destruction work.