Former Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Dr. Andrew Daudi is the one that allowed the banana disease Bunchy Top to spread in the country because he feared the country’s leadership then would not like the news.
This has been revealed by two senior officials from the Ministry of Agriculture after a weekly paper in Malawi revealed that the disease has already wiped out 60 percent of bananas in Malawi leaving the remaining 40 percent also diseased.
But Daudi could not defend himself from the allegations as he could not be reached for comment.
Banana bunchy top—first noted in Malawi around Thiwi area in Nkhotakota in 1994 but confirmed in 1997.
A senior official from the Ministry said on Monday: “When we first detected the disease , several meetings took place within the ministry and I recall that our PS [Principal Secretary] Dr Andrew Daudi told us to shut up. He told us not to go on radio and alert Malawians. He said the President would not like it, so we kept quiet. And today the disease has affected all the banana growing districts of Nkhatabay, Karonga, Nkhotakota, Mulanje and Thyolo.”
His revelations were corroborated by another official in the ministry who added that the disease has wiped lots of bananas.
“We in the ministry feared Dr. Daudi because of his connections with the late president. When he said we should shut up, we indeed shut up fearing for our jobs at the expense of the many millions in the country that enjoy bananas,” the other official said.
The weekly paper that first reported the disease said it is caused by a virus which is spread by an aphid called Pentalonia negronervosa while significant spread from one area to another is through the use of diseased planting materials.
The paper also quoted Bvumbwe Agriculture Research Station chief pathologist Misheck Soko who said that once the aphid attacks a banana plant, it will show signs within 35 days and within one year the plant dies. He said the disease spreads within a distance of 20 km in a year.
“This is the most dangerous disease in the world for bananas. There is no known cure world over. As of now, 60 percent of bananas in Malawi is gone and the remaining 40 percent is infected and going,” Soko told the publication.
Soko was quoted saying that a solution to the problem was that farmers should uproot all bananas in the country and start afresh with clean planting materials.
He said Bvumbwe Agriculture Research Station has clean materials but cannot give them to farmers because they are not uprooting the infected plants.
According to a 2005 report by New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), banana production began to drop in Malawi in 1994 because of the disease.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :