Two technicians from Guyana are among a group to undergo intensive training in managing the Black Sigatoka disease which the FAO says led to the end of plantain exports from this country.
A release from the Food and Agriculture Organization today said that as part of its response to the disease currently threatening the sucker crops it will be providing intensive training in management of the disease at a workshop to be held in Dominica from 17-22 June.
The workshop will train two technicians each from Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Training, the FAO said, will focus on the effective use of fungicides to control and eliminate the disease. Technicians will be schooled to assess the disease’s sensitivity to specific substances and develop more effective treatment plans.
According to the FAO “Black Sigatoka Disease is considered far and away the most destructive disease to bananas and plantains. The disease affects the leaves, severely impacting the plant’s ability to produce fruit of good size and weight and causes premature ripening of the fruit, diminishing their export potential. The disease spores are carried by leaves and other planting material and as such can be spread easily from farm to farm and from country to country”.
Black Sigatoka Disease first made its way to the Caribbean in 1991 and has spread throughout the region, the FAO said. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines the value of exports of the fruits were reduced by 90%. Exports of plantains from Guyana declined by 100% within 2-3 years of the disease establishing itself here, the FAO said.
While the disease remains prevalent here, in recent years the Ministry of Agriculture has not said much on it.
In July 2011, Stabroek News reported that the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) had said that results from the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) in the UK stated that the disease was present in samples sent to it.
Farmers in the Parika area on the East Bank Esequibo, an area which had been hard hit by the disease had related to Stabroek News the problems they were having. A farmer in the Hog Island area, who asked to remain anonymous, told this newspaper in July 2011 that he had been purchasing the fungicides which farmers had been advised by the Agriculture Ministry as being adequate to combat the disease. He said the fungicides have had some amount of impact but much more needed to be done including frequent visits by extension officers of the MoA.
The man said that another method which would see the containment of the disease was to clear the farming area which the disease has affected, but he noted that most of the farms at Hog Island were affected and as such this method would have been difficult for farmers.
NAREI had said then that areas around the country which were affected by the disease include parts of Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8,10 and to a lesser extent in isolated areas of Regions 5 and 6.