Five regional countries, including Dominica, now affected by the Black Sigatoka Disease are in the process of putting together individual national plans which will eventually form part of a regional integrated programme to better manage the disease.
Black Sigatoka is a deadly disease caused by the leaf spot fungus affecting the leaves of the banana and plantain plants.
Back in July 2012 the presence of the Black Sigatoka was confirmed in Dominica.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Samuel Carette says since then a number of organizations have been working with the Ministry of Agriculture and affected farmers in management of the disease.
“The Government of Dominica has committed quite a lot of money to ensuring that the disease does not devastate the banana and plantain sub sector. We have been very busy working with the farmers to de-leaf, and we have trained them to do better farm management.”
Carette though encouraged by the amount of work done so far is suggesting that an integrated approach be taken in the management of the disease.
“We have been very active in terms of the task force and the management committee. In our interactions we have concluded very firmly that we have to take an integrated approach to the management of Black Sigatoka” he stated.
Carrette advised participants to use the resources available to put effective plans for the successful management of the dreaded disease.
“You do have some of the best experts in that field here with you today so put your best foot forward and use your knowledge to influence and to input into what will be an integrated management for the Black Sigatoka” concluded Carette.
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) consultant Dr. Luis Vicente Perez from Cuba who has years of experience working with the Black Sigatoka disease is currently on island for one week.
During his familiarization visit, he will interact with farmers and technical personnel within the Ministry and provide them with suggestions on how the disease can be managed.
Dr.Perez has advised that it cannot be business as usual.
He says “there needs to be a change in farm practices to include maintaining a strict schedule of fungicide application.”
Dominica’s action plan for the management of the Black Sigatoka is expected to be presented at a regional consultation to be held in Barbados from September 20 to 21st.
Two participants from each Caribbean country affected by the Black Sigatoka will be present at this meeting where the national action plans for each country will be discussed making way for the formulation of the regional action plan for managing Black Sigatoka.
It is expected that the regional integrated plan will be ready for full implementation by January 2013.