Action Plan in place to eradicate Black Sigatoka disease

The Ministry of Agriculture together with the Dominica National Fairtrade Organization has put systems in place to manage the spread of Black Sigatoka on the island.

Black Sigatoka which is a leaf spot disease affecting banana and plantain plants was first sighted on Dominica last year.

Head of the Plant Protection Unit within the Division of Agriculture Ryan Anselm, told GIS news that an action plan has been put in place to manage the disease.

“It’s an action plan that speaks to sanitation, nutrition, quarantine and chemical control. We have successfully done three cycles of chemicals, where we try to rotate the chemicals that we use” he said.

Anselm revealed that the Division of Agriculture over the past months has been using spraying methods to get rid of affected plants.

“We have sprayed approximately 2300 acres of bananas and plantain all over the island” confirmed Anselm.

He appealed to affected farmers to work closely with the Division of Agriculture in riding the country of the dreaded Black Sigatoka disease.

Anselm stressed that there are practices which farmers must adhere to.

“We are also asking the farmers to come on board with the Division of Agriculture to do the sanitation practice.  In addition we are asking the farmers to do the de-leafing since it is a key strategy in managing the disease”.

“If you remove the infested leaves you will eliminate the amount of inoculum in the field” explained Anselm.

He stressed that farmers should refrain from moving trashing material from one place to another.

“We still have farmers bringing dry trash to cushion their bananas and plantains to the market and this is a dangerous practice. We are asking farmers and hucksters and everyone involved to refrain from doing that because the disease itself can be spread by that” he said.

Anselm added that the movement of farm workers from one farm to another is a practice which should be discontinued.

“We are asking farmers whose farms are infested with Black Sigatoka, that farm workers should disinfect their tools and wash their clothing before going to another field” stated Anselm.

The Government of Dominica recently received an injection of $2.4 million dollars from the EU Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) to manage the Black Sigatoka Disease.

Organizations such as, CARICOM, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) through a regional project have also been steadfast in assisting with the management of the disease.