Above: a banana plant (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Dominica and Grenada are among a group of countries developing a regional plan to combat the Black Sigatoka disease, which is a growing threat to the Caribbean’s banana crop.
A group of regional stakeholders held a teleconference Thursday with officials of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and other partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization.
“What we have had is a number of requests from governments, through organizations such as IICA, CARDI, the FAO and CARICOM, for assistance to address the Black Sigatoka problem,” said Ken Coipel, a local technical specialist in Dominica for the IICA. “These institutions are working together to ensure that, what is being proposed at the national level will certainly be one that is sustainable and will bring about greater efficiency in the way we go about managing Black Sigatoka.”
Caribbean governments impacted by Black Sigatoka, which is a fungus that targets banana leaves, expect to implement a regional strategy by January 2013.
The disease can cut the fruit production of a given banana tree in half.
Dominica will host a visit next month by Cuban consultant Dr Luis Vicente Perez, who is working with the FAO.
Black Sigatoka’s presence in Dominica was officially confirmed last month.
The FAO has completed an assessment in St Vincent and the Grenadines, which has also been affected by the disease, along with Guyana and St Lucia.