Bacterial wilt, a challenge in Solanaceous crops production at Kenyan highlands and lowlands
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Ralstonia solanacearum, the causal agent of bacterial wilt disease, results in serious world-wide economic losses particularly in the tropics. Members of the family Solanaceae such as potato, tomato, chili and tobacco are the most affected. A survey was conducted in the period of short rains (October December ) the year 2015, covering Kenyan highlands and lowland regions of Nyeri, Kiambu, Nyahururu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, and Embu counties; the major production zones of potato, tomato and capsicum to determine the prevalence, effects and management measures in practice by farmers in control of this bacterium. The findings implicated high dependence of farmers to the solanaceous crops both for income and food (68%), and extensive presence of the bacteria in all the seven study counties. The survey indicated bacterial wilt as a big challenge in production of Solanaceae crops in central Kenya. Lack of elaborate disease management measures and poor seed systems (57%) were found to be the key contributors to the extensive spread, high prevalence (68.57%) and the high incidence (17.74%) of the disease. These findings indicated an urgent need for set up of affordable up to standards seed systems of Solanaceae crops family. This output will enable experimentation of the plant extracts and organic supplements as cheap measures in management of the bacterium leading to alleviation of bacterial wilt challenges in Kenyan highlands and lowlands.