The fruit canker disease has destroyed hundreds of mango trees in Gulu and Nwoya districts. The bacterial disease attacks mango leaves and fruits of both natural and grafted species whether still flowering or mature.
Farmers in both districts say that the disease started appearing between July and October this year during heavy rains. They say that the disease has since persisted, attacking young and mature mango fruits, leaves and flowers.
Once it attacks the leaves, it starts with a small, dark, angular and then advances to irregular spots before it becomes large. Infections on the flower appear as small brown or black spots that later enlarge and often coalesce to cause the death of flowers.
It rapidly spreads on small fruits. On nearly mature or ripe fruits, black spots coalesce to cover large areas, which may be sunken. Mary Ayaa, the manager of the Cultural Hub in Gulu city that trades in locally processed mango juice told URN that the strange disease has attacked five mango trees in their gardens, destroying almost all their fruits.
She explains that the strange disease that started manifesting this season has since affected almost all fruits on the trees, changing their leaves to white and fruit colour from green to brownish.
Ayaa who fears that they will not be able to realize income from the mangoes this season, calls for intervention from the city’s entomology department to find strategies of stopping the disease.
Charles Akena, the administrator of the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) in Gulu city also told URN that he has observed with concerns that for the first time, mangoes on the trees in their compound are rotting away. He says that the disease has also affected several mango trees in his village in Koch Goma sub county in Nwoya district.
Akena is equally appealing to district authorities in charge of plant health to interest themselves in the disease, lest it affects fruit farmers as well the drive to commercialize fruit farming in the Acholi sub region.
Christopher Nyeko, a resident of Gulu city also says that strange green flies are also destroying a number of mango trees within Pece-Laroo division causing their fruits to wither and dry up.
Richard Ssejjoba, an agronomist and director Agrithon Agro-Vet in Gulu city says that fruit canker is one of the major fruit diseases which does not only attack mangoes but other fruits as well. He explained that the disease is prevalent in cool, humid weather and spreads by gardeners tools, seeds, and rain.
He however says that the disease can be prevented through the adequate spacing of the fruits during planting, maintaining hygiene around the fruit garden, and spraying with curable fungicides in case of infection.
Experts also say that the easiest method of avoiding disease problems is to grow anthracnose-resistant varieties, plant trees under the full sun where the flowers, leaves, and fruit dry off quickly after rainfall. They also discourage the farmers from applying irrigation water to the foliage, flowers, and fruit.