Above: banana plants in Dominica (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
As the Eastern Caribbean continues its battle against the Black Sigatoka disease harming its banana crops, Dominica is looking abroad for help.
The country announced this week that it would soon be importing Black Sigatoka-resistant banana plants from the French Caribbean to help farmers in the ongoing fight against the disease.
“As we speak, the European Development Fund National Authorizing Officer is in Barbados meeting with EU officials and putting up a case for Dominica to ensure that the EU Office speeds up the process of making the necessary funds available,” said Dominica Agriculture Minister Johnson Drigo. “One of the components of BAM, which is very important for us, is the purchase of 40,000 banana plants from France. Under the directive of the Prime Minister, Government has fast-tracked the process. Government is presently preparing to procure 20,000 banana plants.”
Once the bananas arrive, they will be stored at a “smart facility” in Portsmouth for weaning and hardening, and they will then be delivered to targeted farmers.
According to the Minister, 20 farmers will be targeted to cultivate five-acre plots for the development of these 20,000 plants.
“The target is that within the year 2015 there will be at least 100,000 William banana plants on the island and the farmers will be able to get all the technical support they need,” he said. “The understanding is that once the banana fields are properly maintained. We can control the spread of Black Sigatoka on the island. So it’s a matter of all stakeholders being onboard.”