Despite enormous challenges posed by the deadly Black Sigatoka disease a top Food and Agriculture (FAO) official believes it can be controlled if proper mitigation efforts are in place.
“We need an integrated management action plan because Black Sigatoka is a very dangerous disease … it’s a killer but the good news is that it can be managed,” FAO Plant Production and Protection Officer Dr. Vyjayanthi Lopez said.
She was speaking at major consultation on Thursday as Dominica finds new ways in tackling the disease which has began to ravage the banana industry here.
Dr. Lopez called on all countries in the region to join forces to put an end to the threat. “It cannot be business as usual. It is necessary for the island to change how it produces plantains and bananas,” she stressed.
The government of Dominica has allocated over $300,000 to combat the dangerous disease and according to Acting Agriculture Minister Ivor Stephenson if Black Sigatoka is not managed properly it could have far-reaching implications on farm and rural income, foreign exchange and domestic food and nutrition security.
He said Dominica has sought the assistance of several organizations to help battle the disease.
Five regional countries, including Dominica, are now affected by the Black Sigatoka Disease. They are presently in the process of putting together individual national plans which is expected to form part of a regional integrated programme to better manage it.
Dominica is expected to participate in a regional consultation in Barbados from September 20-21 where its national plan will be presented and which will eventually form part of a regional integrated program to manage the disease.
The regional program is expected to be implemented by January 2013.
The FAO has already completed an assessment in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Guyana and now Dominica.
The team moves on to St Lucia next week.
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