– Agri Ministry
The Ministry of Agriculture is confident that there are no outbreaks of Black Sigatoka (a leaf-spot disease of banana plants) in Region Two, contrary to the doubts of farmers in the region.
One farmer, Archie Cordis, who resides in Aurora Village, but who farms at another site, said that for some time now, there has been a disease attacking his crops. He said that the disease had so far proven to be resistant to most of the available fungicides and insecticides.
According to Cordis, approximately six months ago, representatives of the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) visited the farms after receiving the reports and proceeded to take samples of infected plants for further testing.
He said that the representatives also distributed fungicide to a number of farmers and told them that the disease was suspected to be Black Sigatoka.
Black Sigatoka is a leaf-spot disease that attacks banana trees primarily. As the dark leaf-spots enlarge and coalesce they turn the leaves yellow and brown. The disease is fungal in origin and the humid climate of the tropics tends to provide the conditions necessary for it to flourish.
Black Sigatoka can cut the yield of an affected banana tree by almost half and has over time gained considerable resistance to the many fungicides available to treat it.
The farmers were told that the samples were being sent out of the country for further testing and that they would be duly informed of the results of the test. According to Cordis, to date there has been no information from representatives in the area.
He noted that while farmers should continue to use the drugs recommended by NARI, it is always good to diagnose before you treat.
The Musa Disease Management Unit (MDMU), according to information supplied from the Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, has discovered that there is no outbreak of Black Sigatoka or any other Musa disease – diseases that afflict banana and plantain trees – in the area. He said that there were no fungicides actually distributed to farmers in the area. Instead, the supplies were actually used on “Demonstration” plots in the area.
There are apparently six of these plots in the region that were being used by field officers of the MDMU as a means of training farmers in strategies to combat the disease.
The Ministry said that officers from both the MDMU and the Ministry of Agriculture itself have been dispatched to the area to investigate if there are any further developments in the situation.
Farmers whose greatest worry has been finding water for their crops, have been warned by the Hydromet Office that the season has not fully transitioned from dry to rainy, and that there may be tempestuous times ahead in terms of rainfall.
Added to that is the threat of disease and pestilence to crops all over the country. The rice production region of the coast has been experiencing serious problems with the paddy bug. There are indications that the rate of paddy bug infection is climbing to some seven per cent, while last year the crop which should have been larger than this year’s after factoring losses as a result of the dry spell still only faced a two percent infection rate.
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