Banana is Uganda’s most important staple food crop, with over 20 million Ugandans depending on banana to feed their family. Yields of this vital crop have been greatly affected by banana bacterial wilt for roughly a decade, resulting in dramatic losses for the nation’s farmers.
Ugandan scientists have developed a genetically-modified banana variety that is resistant to wilt but that variety cannot reach eager farmers until the nation’s Biosafety Bill is enacted. After years of wrangling, the Ugandan Parliament passed the bill in October 2017 but President Yoweri Museveni referred it to back to lawmakers in December, citing various concerns. With those concerns now reportedly addressed, State Minister of Agriculture Christopher Kibanzanga said last month that “the bill will pass.”
As the video above shows, Uganda’s farmers certainly hope that Kibanzanga is right. For now, Uganda’s political system holds the key to helping farmers who are struggling with the devastating banana bacterial wilt disease. The potential for the GMO banana also extends beyond Uganda, as bacterial wilt disease ravages banana plantations across the globe.
NOTE: A compressed version of the above video suitable for sharing on WhatsApp and other mobile applications can be found here.