The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is financing research aimed at curbing cotton wilt disease, which is prevalent and spreading in some of Uganda’s cotton growing regions, the ‘Dow Jones’ financial news agency reported on Thursday. Peter Olupot, cotton project coordinator with the USAID ‘Compete’ programme (for Competitive Private Enterprise and Trade Expansion), said a US Department of Agriculture expert would travel to Uganda by October to help local experts develop ways of controlling the disease. He said the disease was caused by a fungus, and resulted in the drying of affected plants, ‘Dow Jones’ reported. “No serious thought had been given to this disease for years, but it’s now spreading. We have to do something before it becomes a problem in the future,” it quoted Olupot as saying. The disease is currently controlled by uprooting and burning affected trees. Cotton was Uganda’s third-largest export commodity after coffee and tea, accounting for just under 5 percent of annual commodity export revenue, the report stated. Output has been steadily increasing from around 35,000 bales a year in the mid-1990s to an estimated 100,000 bales in the year 200-‘01, it added.
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