Over 20 farm workers will soon be hired under the National Employment Program (NEP) to destroy abandoned banana farms which has been a major source of headache in the battle against Black Sigatoka.
Black Sigatoka is a leaf spot disease affecting banana and plantain plants which was discovered in Dominica in 2012.
Abandoned farms serve as a source of inoculation for the disease and according to Head of Plant Quarantine in Dominica, Ryan Anselm, a total of 21 individuals, including seven supervisors will be hired to destroy them.
“So in the month of May, once that money is approved from the NEP, we will employ some farm labor to tackle the abandoned fields that [have] been a source of inoculation for the Black Sigatoka,” he said at a press conference.
Anselm noted that in moving forward the strategy planned is to use disease-resistant planting material and Cuba has been identified as a suitable country to provide such material.
“So what we have to do is get a suitable country …we have identified Cuba to be the most suitable country in terms of phytosanitary (sanitation with regard to pests and pathogens) concern that will give us disease-free planting resistance varieties,” he said.
Meantime Coordinator of Black Sigatoka Task Force, Carol Abraham, pointed out that authorities are at the end of their 5th spray cycle.
“To date we have sprayed a total of 940 acres of bananas,” she said. ” We have over a 1,000 acres of plantain that have been sprayed, totaling to date 2,068 acres of bananas and plantain.”
She pointed out that disease has spread to almost every part of the island but is not widespread in the north.
Abraham is confident the disease will eventually be contained and controlled.
“I am confident that we can manage it,” she stated. “Those farmers who are serious are doing what they have to do.”