Crop Loss and Distribution

Bacterial wilt of ginger inflicts serious economic losses in many ginger-growing countries on small and marginal farmers who depend on this crop for their livelihood. Although it is difficult to estimate the economic losses that can be attributed directly or indirectly to bacterial wilt, it ranks as one of the most serious and damaging diseases of bacterial origin in the world in terms of the actual number of plants killed each year in major crops such as banana, ginger, groundnut, potato, tobacco, and tomato (Sequeira and Kelman, 1976). The disease is endemic on other host plants in most of the ginger-growing regions in the world. Under conducive conditions, it causes loss in yield up to 100 percent in many ginger-growing states in India (Thomas, 1941; Sarma et al. 1978; Mathew et al. 1979; Dohroo 1991; Dake, 1995). According to an Indonesian report, bacterial wilt of ginger is estimated to cause annual losses up to 75 billion rupiah (Supriadi, 2000). Bacterial wilt of ginger is widespread and exceedingly destructive in several countries, a situation made worse by the easiness with which the pathogen is carried within the planting material.

Ever since the first report by Thomas of bacterial wilt of ginger from the Malabar region in the Madras presidency in 1941, voluminous information about the disease has accumulated, which is an indirect reflection of the economic importance of the disease. Since then the disease has been reported in Australia (Hayward et al., 1967; Pegg and Moffett, 1971), China (Li et al., 1994), Hawaii (Rosenberg, 1962; Quinon et al., 1964), Indonesia (Sitepu et al., 1977, Mulya et al., 1990), South Korea (Choi and Han, 1990), Malaysia

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Figure 9.1 Bacterial wilt of ginger.

(Lum, 1973), Mauritius (Orian, 1953), Nigeria (Nnodu and Emehute, 1988), and the Philippines (Zehr, 1969, 1970). The disease spreads rapidly when conditions of high temperature and rainfall are favorable for the disease development. The disease devastated the ginger crop in an area of 5 ha at the Horticultural Research Station, Ambalavayal, India, in 1978 (Mathew et al., 1979).

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