One farmer, from Wesley, who has been affected by a recent Winfresh suspension of the purchase of bananas, is calling on the government to do more to tackle the spread of Black Sigatoka.
Black Sigatoka is a leaf spot disease of banana plants caused by ascomycete fungus and its presence was confirmed in Dominica in June 2012.
Lynn Edwards, who has been a banana farmer for the past 30 years, told Dominica News Online (DNO) that the government needs to “step up” to fight the spread of the disease
“I believe the government is not doing enough to tackle the spread of Black Sigatoka and I do believe they can do more,” she said.
According to Edwards, in order to contain the disease a cycle of spraying must be done every 15 to 20 days, however the government is providing a cycle once every eight months.
This amounts to just two cycles a year which, she said, is not enough.
Edward said she is trying her best to tackle the disease herself.
“I am trying my best to care for my banana farm to help fight the spread of the disease,” she noted. “I bought how many gallons of cooking oil, trying the best way I can, but the cycles are just not on time.”
She said the impact of the disease has been devastating to farmers in Dominica and the rest of the region.
“It is very hard for the farmers,” she said, adding that she recently took a loan to buy a truck but she doesn’t know how she is going to repay the bank.
She describes banana cultivation as her ‘livelihood.’
“All my life that’s what I do to make a living,” she stated.
Edward said because of Black Sigatoka, she is now operating her farm at a loss.
“Before the Black Sigatoka took over I used to make over 200 boxes of bananas, right now I make 60 boxes,” she lamented. “My income before was over $1,000, now I make under $1,000.”
Last week it was reported that distributor and importer of bananas,Winfresh, has suspended purchase from Dominica’s core farmers because of the poor quality of fruits caused by Black Sigatoka.
President of the National Fair Trade Organization (NFTA), Charles Watty, later said farmers should be back in business as early as this week.