The Kaduna State Government on Saturday acknowledged reported outbreak of a rice disease, known as rice blast, in some parts of the state.
Officials of the the Kaduna Agricultural Development Project (KADP) are already expressing fear that the infection, caused by the bacteria, Magnaporthe grisea, would affect the annual projected rice yield in the state.
KADP’s Media officer, Malam Shehu Aliyu, said the outbreak was reported in Birnin-Gwari and Maigana farming zones of the state — Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Chikun, Kubau and Kudan local government areas.
“This is where the crop is cultivated in commercial quantity and the disease is currently causing rust on rice leaves.”
Aliyu said extension service workers have been deployed to the areas to take samples for laboratory analysis to ascertain the extent of the outbreak and the total areas affected.
He said the outbreak in addition to the recent flood disaster may likely affect the projected rice yield of the state during the current harvest.
The State Area Yield Survey on rice is put at three metric tonnes per hectre, and farmers cultivate an average of 300,000 hectares per year.
Aliyu said the state also produce an average of one million metric tonnes of rice including 75,000 metric tonnes cultivated through irrigation.
He appealed to rice farmers not to panic, assuring that the state government had taken steps to ascertain the cause of the outbreak in order to control its spread.
Rice blast is a debilitating disease which affects all the rice-growing regions of the world, causing losses of up to 30 per cent of the global rice harvest.
The symptoms of the disease include lesions on all parts of the plant, including leaves, leaf collar, necks, panicles, pedicels and seeds.
Others areas affected by the diseases are Zaria, Sabon Gari, Ikara, Makarfi and Soba local government areas, all in the northern part of the state where both up-land and low-land rice are produced in commercial quantity.