Dominica Steps Up Black Sigatoka Fight

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - July 18, 2012

Above: a banana plant

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Following similar efforts in St Lucia, the government of Dominica is stepping up its fight against the Black Sigatoka disease.

The move comes after the presence of Black Sigatoka was confirmed last week. That sample had been tested in a lab in Martinique.

Black Sigatoka, a fungal leaf spot disease, affects banana plants and can cut the fruit production of a given tree in half.

Ryan Anselm, Plant Protection Officer in Dominica, said the disease could be managed if farmers follow guidelines issued by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

“Black Sigatoka must be viewed as a very dangerous disease, and government is not going to drag its feet in implementing the relevant measures to ultimately achieve the objective of the complete eradication of Black Sigatoka,” said Agriculture Minister Matthew Walter. “We cannot afford to be playing around with the disease.”

Before the disease was confirmed, Dominica’s cabinet reportedly allocated $300,000 for an emergency action plan.

That money has already been released, according to Walter.

Carol Severin-Abraham, coordinator of the Black Sigatoka Management Programme, said Dominica’s government was being proactive.

“There’s a lot of activity that the Ministry of Agriculture is doing very quickly that you have not seen in other states,” she said. “The other countries are not going as fast as Dominica is.”

Severin-Abraham is also director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute.

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