Dominica has now joined the ranks of Caribbean banana producing countries fighting the scourge known as the Black Sigatoka disease.
The disease, which kills banana and plantain plants, has been confirmed here, with agriculture officials admitting that they are worried about the situation.
Calling it one of the most deadly diseases to hit the already fragile banana industry, Agriculture Minister Mathew Walter told a press conference Monday that vigorous steps will be taken to deal with the problem.
“It is one of the most destructive pests of bananas and plantains. Recently it was confirmed present in Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenada. It is with much regret that I am to advise that banana and plant health experts have intercepted the disease in Dominica,” Walter told reporters.
He said official laboratory confirmation indicates that the disease is here.
“Well before the confirmation, we activated an emergency action plan for the management and control of Black Sigatoka,” the minister said.
Fundamental actions taken to date reportedly include the activation of an emergency task force, the establishment of regional field coordination committees in each region, and the development of a management strategy for the disease.
“Even before the confirmation of the disease, cabinet had immediately released $300,000 to initiate control and management strategies,” Walter said.
He said as of this week, public awareness activities will be stepped up to inform and advice shareholders of the banana and plantain sector.
The restriction of movement of plants from one area to another, and destruction of abandoned banana and plantain fields are among measures being taken.
The Agriculture minister urged farmers, hucksters and the public to support the measures being introduced.
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