Farmers are expecting to realize a boost in banana and plantain production after concluding rigorous training in Black Sigatoka management.
The training workshop which ran from November 25th to December 3rd was conducted by the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
Farmers, agriculture extension officers and Black Sigatoka disease monitoring officers were brought together to build capacity to manage the disease.
The training was held under a Caribbean Development Bank funded project which is being implemented in Guyana, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica.
CARDI’s Regional Project Coordinator, Sharon Jones, “This project really came about because the Governments of these islands needed some research assistance.”
The training focused on the importance of utilizing an integrated approach towards Black Sigatoka management.
Jones spoke of the importance of fertilization and having a good plant population.
“We are looking at the disease- why is it developing more in the rainy season that the dry season; how to manage leaves and pruning; the importance of pruning, and getting the inoculum level of the disease as low as possible. That means eliminating abandoned fields and dying leaves…”
She added that participants were shown that only Stages 1 and 2 can be effectively sprayed and controlled with fungicides.”
Agricultural Engineer, Dr. Robert Power, who has 15 years of experience in banana management and export in Suriname, facilitated the training.
He acknowledged that timely spraying and cultural practices and encouraged in Dominica.
“The big difference between the islands is that Suriname has one bgig company and here you have many small farmers who may not be aware of what they are dealing with. The disease requires discipline and control.”
He thinks Dominican farmers must adopt new cultural practices on the farm to ably combat the disease.
Extension officer and participant, Franklyn Magloire believes the training has equipped stakeholders to improve production.
“A lot of lessons were learnt,” he said.
[Jones instructs participants]