Dominica to import banana plants in Black Sigatoka fight

Drigo said the project is important
Drigo said the project is important

Dominica will be importing banana plants from France as the island continues to struggle to contain the deadly Black Sigatoka virus.

Some 20,000 plants will soon be on the island and about 20 farmers will be engaged in the first phase of the project which falls under the EU-funded Banana Accompany Measures (BAM), Agriculture Minister, Johnson Drigo said.

“One of the components of the BAM, which is very important for us going forward, is the purchase some 40,000 banana plants from France,” he explained. “What government has gone, with the directive of the Prime Minister, we have fast track, for want of a better word, this project. Government is presently preparing to procure some 20,000 plants of bananas from France.”

He noted that when the plants get to Dominica, they will be held at the SMART Facility in Portsmouth for “weaning and hardening” and this will take “a couple months.”

“Then these plants will be delivered to targeted farmers in the first instance,” Johnson said. “Some 20 farmers will be targeted for some five-acre plots. This will be followed by, incrementally, the support of the BAM …”

Johnson said the project is important because it will allow farmers a fresh opportunity to get technical support in fighting Black Sigatoka.

“We will be able to assist the farmers with all the technical support and caring that these plants are going to be needing in order to ensure that the Black Sigatoka disease doesn’t get a hold on these news plants,” he stated.

Johnson noted that the structure of the National Fair Trade Organization will be strengthened.

“And that is why the Ministry of Agriculture itself is going to give Fair Trade additional support from the quarantine unit to extension to ensure that once this variety of plants are ready and they are in the soil, Fair Trade and the farmers will get all of the support they need and then we will gradually expand the process over time,” he noted.

A consultant will also be employed by the Ministry of Agriculture to fight the disease.

Black Sigatoka is a leaf spot disease of banana plants caused by ascomycete fungus and its presence was confirmed in Dominica in June 2012.

The banana sector was dealt a huge blow when Winfresh announced it was suspending the purchase of bananas from Dominica because of poor quality of fruits caused by the disease.

Banana farmers have been complaining that enough is not being done to contain the disease.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture said funds were approved to begin a project of frequent spraying.

Other islands stricken by Black Sigatoka, such as St. Lucia, have managed to control the disease and are reporting record banana exports.

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  1. Titiwi
    January 21, 2015

    Reminds me of that famous song that says” the end is near , the final curtain”…but I did it my way”. Yes Sir P.M., you certainly did it your way!

  2. rol
    January 20, 2015

    I don’t understand this, the PM pranced on the Danny lougay thing now the bananas situation he is silent. Had they give the industry the needed attention early, they would not be spending soo much more to revive it

  3. Just me
    January 19, 2015

    So much banana plants Dominica have you telling me you importing bananas. Magwesa, Drigo you not easy. *Shake my head*

  4. Francisco Telemaque
    January 19, 2015

    Whereas I like to whip Skerrit’s Butt, everyday, critiquing him for all the evils of Dominica, it would be difficult for me to blame him and any government for the demise of the Banana Industry. The disease is like a plague, dispersed by the wind. It is airborne carried from country to country, no human man has any control over the disease, it will either become dormant destroy, or it will will take God to intervene in order to rid the world of this organism. Unless unless God intervene nobody in Dominica can do anything to resolve the problem, I do not care who they are!

    As for Drigo, he is a liar talking crap about importing plants from France: Indeed bananas are grown in Iceland, nevertheless, they are grown in Greenhouses, in a limited amount, this guy is trying to make people believe one goes to France and they see archers of land cultivated with Bananas, his sentiments is that of someone missed informed or just a straight out liar! If France has plants to supply us, why…

    • Francisco Telemaque
      January 19, 2015

      Only a continuation:

      why haven’t they eradicate the organism in Guadeloupe, and Martinique where the problem exists? The disease exist wherever, the plant is found on the planet. Eventually the plant will be totally eradicated, Dominicans fail to recognize that and accept it as fact!

      Someone refer to the organism which caused the problem as a virus. There is a difference in a virus and an fungus (organism). A fungus is any of the major group (Fungi) of saprophytic, and parasitic spore-pore-producing organism that include; molds, rust, mildews, smuts, mushrooms, and yeasts.

      Not: Chlorophyll is what causes plants to remain green, hence combined with sunlight photosynthesis occurs. Without chlorophyll the result is what we see in Dominica in regards to the Banana Plants, without photosynthesis all the plants will eventually die, how do we stop that from happening. Pesticides are not working, I doubt the plants can be genetically altered to produce chlorophyll without…

      • Francisco Telemaque
        January 19, 2015

        I doubt the plants can be genetically altered to produce chlorophyll without photosynthesis.

        Contrarily, a virus is any of a large group of submicroscopic infective agents that are regarded either as extremely simple microorganism, or as extremely complex molecules, that typically contain a protein coat surrounding an RNA or DNA core of genetic material, however, no semipermeable membrane that are capable of growth, and multiplication only in living cells, and that cause various diseases in human, and lower animals, and some type of plants, of which I doubt banana plants falls into category.

        And I error where I wrote spore-pore-producing or something like that, I actually meant “spore-producing.

        Elizabeth, and Facts machine let me see what you have to say about the science!

  5. Ms. Educator
    January 19, 2015

    A lot of our farmers have given up on farming. They are now driving buses. Imagine that eh?
    There are so many other crops that grow well in Dominica. Almost anything you put in Dominica’s soil will grow. Why not get DEXIA to find markets for our abundance of crops. Leave the cultivation of bananas alone for a while and just concentrate on other exports.

    Banana cultivation has so much zahfeh. You have to do so much to flatter the bananas to grow healthily.

    In the meantime we could find a solution re: clearing out the infected crop and introducing suitable banana plants for cultivation. :)

  6. Augustine Lockhart
    January 19, 2015

    Jono d.skerrit tired make you look like an .fig die.and he knows it is not coming back. He kill it to beg instead. You out there talking nonsense. Remember he gave you to debate coffee in parliament some years gone. Stop make skerrit use you.

  7. Christabel Frazier
    January 19, 2015

    What is the point in bringing healthy plants to a sick plantation? Why not treat and kill the problem first, then bring in the hopefuls? Basic science people!!!! That’s just poor financial planning.

  8. Help My unbelief
    January 19, 2015

    My government has told so many black lies to us that I now have a very had time believing anything they say. This new one reminds me of the fertilizer and garbage bin story. It’s one to keep our eyes on. So please understand my dilemma and help thou my unbelief

  9. Lang Mama
    January 19, 2015

    Merciful bondieur ir pa nir pyes banan correct banan France
    Dominique ous doux ous pas nir dot sitwon Avec banan
    pa ce que la a ka twavaille
    ay ya yaille ce un pawadir
    mercy bondieur ir pa ayen
    Ki bon ckn ca
    ir pa nir pwes guvelma
    kit entitle kor laba

  10. Worker.......
    January 19, 2015

    Frank talker if you have nothing sensible to say shut up. This is not a beauty pageant.

  11. Truth be Told
    January 19, 2015

    How quickly Dominica moved from being the breadbasket of the Caribbean to the laughing stock of the Caribbean!

    • Ma Moses
      January 20, 2015

      from breadbasket to basket case. Yes, Sir! The amount of imported fish in tin I saw today at Astaphan but no fresh fish. One lonely fresh chicken looking at me in Whitchurch and not a slice of bacon in sight, not even imported turkey bacon. What is that new abattoir doing for us? I think I’ll become an ambassador and get my container with goodies, all duty free.

  12. from france
    January 19, 2015

    from where? are you for real? from france boy look joke

  13. January 19, 2015

    je suis charlie.

  14. January 19, 2015

    This move to purchase banana plants from France is indeed confirmation, that the industry is dead. and now we are beginning anew if this is the case then so be it, Let us now ensure that the Island is free of the black sigotoka before the new plants are introduce on the Island also we must stop this nasty habit of playing Politics with every thing in this country and give the FARMERS THE PLANTS REGARDLESS OF THEIR POLITICAL association or affiliation just do it and all will be well

  15. The Baptiste
    January 19, 2015

    I will start with this analogy “A man shoots you in the head, you survive, and he pays for a steel plate to replace your damaged skull, you are now supposed to be grateful to him for facilitating replacing your natural original skull with this steel plate, which he now tells you that you should look on the bright side, because now if someone strikes you on the head you will feel no pain.
    Along with that little analogy, Dominica has now enshrined in its psyche, the begging, aid rather than trade mentality. Will someone explain why we have to get plants from France, I was unaware that bananas grew anywhere in Europe, but again, not been a laborite I would not know. Why can Dominica not use the opportunity to develop its own agricultural Lab., so that it can produce not only bananas, but practically any crop that will grow in Dominica.
    Are these plants going to be made available to bonafide farmers?

    • out of south city
      January 19, 2015

      I am dumbfounded. I just can’t understand what’s happening here. First of all, where did that sigatoka come from? My philosophy is that when you introduce chemicals to anything it changes the composition of that thing. I said in a previous comment that before the spraying of banana leaves with chemicals we did not have this problem. I remember as a child when people would go about with the machine spray on their backs spraying the banana leaves. I personally believe that the continuous spraying of these leaves caused an adverse effect. To be honest, I do not trust the white man. He has done too much in this world to hurt humanity, especially African people. Who made these chemicals and what has become of the soil where these bananas were planted?
      Now we have to import bananas from France? This is beyond my understanding. I didn’t know that France grows bananas! Are these real plants or were they grown in a lab?
      Oh boy! What is becoming of us as a nation?

      ONE LOVE

  16. Democracy 4 Dominica
    January 19, 2015

    This is like putting an uninfected individual in a room where someone was treated for an infectious disease. Without first disinfecting the entire space and ensuring that individual does not come in contact with any of the patients infected with the Virus!!!!!!!
    Otherwise, you are defeating the whole purpose. This is beyond ridiculous.

    • Christabel Frazier
      January 19, 2015

      Well said!!!! I buying stock in the Aids Virus, if this new way of thinking works!!!!

  17. Democracy 4 Dominica
    January 19, 2015

    This Government is a joke and complete embarrassment to the citizens at home and abroad. Why would you want to introduce new plants given the current situation? Any ‘DUMMY” would know you first try to get the problem under control in an attempt to eradicate the Sigatoka . Then replace the old with new.
    Dominica is doing everything backwards as is the ‘norm’ for this current Regime.
    This is the blind leading the blind and individuals just too arrogant to enlist the help from the experts.
    Bunch of KNUCKLEHEADS running our country!!!!!!

  18. Anon
    January 19, 2015

    Quite frankly we know what happened there. While St. Lucia invested heavily in their banana farmers our gov’t was caught with their pants down in mediocre talk talk talk on bananas and their banana farmers. St. Lucia has no such import bill. What a shame, a DIRTY SHAME!

  19. Historian
    January 19, 2015

    Brilliant! Luckily we voted Labour for five more years. Nothing being done without the ‘directive’ of the PM (aka God). Then I am not too smart, but when those plants go on the very same farms where the disease has not been eradicated, aren’t they going to be infected sooner or later? Are you requiring these farmers to totally wipe out their existing fields and replant? Tell us more about this superior intellectual plan that you geniuses are coming up with.

  20. Free and Fair
    January 19, 2015

    “A consultant will also be employed by the Ministry of Agriculture to fight the disease”.

    Will this consultant be our very own, Dr. Clayton A. Shillingford, who has made attempts in the past, and is prepared to assist, in controlling and eradicating the disease?

  21. Francisco Telemaque
    January 19, 2015

    Ignorance is blitz they say! What difference the imported plants from France are going to make. In the first place one cannot grow bananas in France unless they are grown in a greenhouse. And unless the plants they are importing are genetically altered to repel (resists) Black Sigatoka, the imported plants will succumb to the disease.

    Someone need to remind that talking head that Black Sigatoka is carried, and spread by the wind, so unless the imports are genetically altered the problem will be the same. And even if they alter the plants, the fruits are not going to be as a that of a regular banana. My question to this Castle Bruce scientists, the genius, if they grow so many bananas in France, which abeles them to sell plants to us, how come they are not supply the European market with Bananas?

    • The Facts
      January 19, 2015

      This is confidence. Just as life is uncertain and we know not what may occur, one day to the other and also in the future, we cannot assume what will occur until it is tried.
      Nothing beats a failure but a trial. If at first you do not succeed, try again. Give it a try. From thereon, let us see what will happen.

    • January 20, 2015

      There is bananas in France, but they come from Guadeloupe.

    • PS
      January 20, 2015

      Please Francisco, the saying is “ignorance is bliss”, not “blitz”….although I sometimes wish it was!

  22. Good Criticism
    January 19, 2015

    Be warned FARMERS and fellow DOMINICANS of these plants, which seems to me to be Genetically Modified (GM). If it’s immuned to the Black Sigatoka virus then it can be other than this to kill us off.

    • The Facts
      January 19, 2015

      Did you hear or know? What does not kill fattens. :lol: :lol: :lol:
      They will have to pray and hope for the best.

  23. cb dominican
    January 19, 2015

    Ok if france have so many banana they can even give us plants they closer to england y england coming all the way there for fig them plants in france doh making fruits papa ebain look it

  24. Malgraysa
    January 19, 2015

    A crying shame that all those years when two specialist Doctors in this field, Clayton Shillingford and the late Henry Fagan, offered there advice and services they were cold shouldered and ignored. Now all of a sudden Roosevelt Skerrit is the expert and saviour and directs his Minister of Agriculture on what measures to take. For the sake of our country I hope we have earned our lessons and will not spurn such help in future, especially from our own. I don’t care what political affiliation they may have or whether their face fits or not. Let’s swallow our pride accept such help gracefully.

  25. Trevor Fabien
    January 19, 2015

    Is this the beginning of the end?

    I never expected to see such a demise of banana in my country.This is the start of a new 5 year term for the government and one would have thought this would be an optimistic time. Is this what we have been relegated to as a country and as a people who call our island the, Nature Island of the Caribbean.
    Dominicans are facing a tough time and it is unbelievable to think that we are now importing not just banana but banana trees and from France.
    Are these bananas Genetically Modified because I know bananas do not grow naturally in France.

    Can someone please tell what is going on in this crazy country called Dominica? I want to know. Maybe i am missing something or perhaps I am dreaming. Can someone wake me up please cause this has got to be a nightmare. It just cannot be real

  26. Mamizoo
    January 19, 2015

    Aint that a joke – Drigo is creating the impression that they are being proactive by suggesting that government fast track the project. First off all Drigo it is the fault of the government why the situation is that bad. Secondly this is an emergency situation and emergency action is required so stop this unwarranted aggrandizement. In addition the BAM money should not have been used for that purpose – the BAM money was meant to upgrade our Banana Industry.
    Note also that we should not have been buying cutivar from France when Clayton Shillingford had already initiated an effort to recultivate using a resistant specie.
    I say all of this not to marginalize or criticize the effort by government but to show the kind of management that we expect from this government.
    Now go higher a Charlie Jong like when Clayton and decease Fagan offered their services years ago.
    We like it so – Labar ka twavaille

  27. i hear you !
    January 19, 2015

    Talk is cheap :!:
    Always put the cat before the horse.

    • Titiwi
      January 19, 2015

      Why not put the “cat” on the horse and give her free ride?

    • The Baptiste
      January 19, 2015

      In either case Dominica is looking up the Horse’s A

  28. zamm
    January 19, 2015

    Looooook, all you en make joke. This government killed the banana industry n now trying to revive it.
    Imagine fig plants comin from FrAnce. SOON dasheen n so forth will come from france High bred bananas or green house bananas? Wats really goin on there…
    Now they really put johnno in agriculture to bury him. Johnoo should be community dev.
    Feel sirry for johno n ministry of agriculture

  29. CYRIL Volney
    January 19, 2015

    Why Banana plants from France. Are these plants immune to Black Sigatroka?

    • Titiwi
      January 19, 2015

      Mr. Volney, France does not grow bananas, it is too cold there. I suspect these plants come from Guadeloupe or Martinique. But we don’t know if this variety is acceptable to the U.K. market seeing that St. Lucia & Grenada are shipping our existing variety there.

    • Anon
      January 19, 2015

      No banana plant is immune to Black Sigatroka. These are most likely grown in green houses, not exposed to the air that our plants breathe. Eventually, it is predicted, bananas grown in the open will be devastated if not wiped out just like the grow-micelle bananas. The carvendish we have today replaced it back in the early 70’s I think….correct me if I’m wrong please.

    • Christabel Frazier
      January 19, 2015

      If them man tell you they getting new and improved bananas, don’t fret or complain. 80% of the population are in agreement. All de rum they drink before Christmas haven’t drained away yet, so right now it makes perfect sense . By the time they sober up, the “frozen bananas” from “France” will be in the ground defrosting and absorbing all that the land has to offer. There is no room for educated thoughts here, my friend. All you have to do is watch and laugh! “Lobour ka twavai” That is what they wanted now let them stew in it!

  30. Frank Talker
    January 19, 2015

    Doesn’t DNO have a better photo of the Minister?

    • Anonymous
      January 19, 2015

      what’s wrong with the photo, he’s simply laughing at Dominicans like the rest of the government.

    • Francisco Telemaque
      January 19, 2015

      A Leaped cannot change it color, any other photograph of that guy will look the same, I am disgust looking at funny half open mouth too, but I suppose God molded him in his image too; just another of God creation.

      • The Facts
        January 22, 2015

        A ‘leopard’ cannot change its color overnight. Are you referring to yourself? :twisted: :mrgreen: :twisted: :mrgreen: :twisted: :mrgreen:

    • Titiwi
      January 19, 2015

      Chupes man, what is more important? Bananas or the the looks of the Minister?

    • Shameless
      January 20, 2015


      Assertive, NOT Aggressive! 8)

  31. Young Farmer
    January 19, 2015


  32. Worried Dominican
    January 19, 2015

    I only hope that the ‘targeted farmers’ are not going to be targeted based on their political affiliation!! All our farmers need help and so please do not play politics with this one!!

  33. Pedro
    January 19, 2015

    Four Words: ” Look how we come”…mighty spider calypso

  34. Oledaag
    January 19, 2015

    SMHHH…this story makes me cringe. Sounds like a GMO banana about to take hold of the NATURE ISLE. Smh…those decision makers with short term visions…(what is our brand)

    • uwotm8
      January 20, 2015

      News flash – the banana plant is already genetically modified. Cross breeding of two varieties which produced a sterile offspring and years of selective breeding has gotten the plant from the rough wild fruit that it was years ago to the near seedless softer fruit that it is today. Which is why plants have to be reproduced by cloning (suckers) instead of seeds. Which coincidentally is the reason why it’s so susceptible to disease (less genetic variety means that if a strain can affect one crop severely it will affect them all).

  35. Hmm
    January 19, 2015

    Hmm, so Dominica has to import Banana plants now….. IMPORT?!!!… from FRANCE?!!! its suppose to be the other way around… France is suppose to be importing from Dominica

    • Anonymous
      January 19, 2015

      So import banana from France and then export it to England. Look majee.

    • forreal
      January 19, 2015

      News flash for you,Dominicans are not doing a quarter of the farming that these people in france,canada ,america as a matter of fact Europe as a whole doing,so doh even think that you all are anywhere in agriculture,not you all or anywhere else in the caribbean

    • Malgraysa
      January 19, 2015

      Guadeloupe and Martinique are parts of the E.U. because they are departements of France. Therefore their bananas have free entry into France and enjoy the benefits of the EU agricultural policy. Still, we could export to the E.U. provided our quality is up to scratch and we can supply contracted volumes on a consistent basis. We can fulfill neither at present.

    • Christabel Frazier
      January 19, 2015

      The France bananas most likely will be coming from Guadeloupe and Martinique. (EU Productions). Too bad they cannot jump on a boat and go and voler them. I don’t understand why not; they have the experience…

  36. JoJo
    January 19, 2015

    Johnson, you had to wait for a directive from the P.M. to move on that? I am disappointed , you are supposed to be in charge of agriculture and not the P.M. That is very worrying if you are not allowed or unable to take your own initiative Johnson. We call that an impotent member. Of course I’m glad something is being done but I question your competence in that job.

    • joe
      January 19, 2015

      JoJo don’t you think the PM being Minister of Finance could be a reason for Johnson waiting on the Directive?

      • JoJo
        January 19, 2015

        Joe, are you trying to tell us that the Minister of agriculture does not have his own budget? That would be very embarrassing if that is the case because it would mean that the minister of finance is micro-managing and second-guessing everything. I really hope that is not so.

    • Oh Yes
      January 19, 2015

      Good observations.

    • Anon...
      January 19, 2015

      And you have another 5 years of this.

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