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In order to improve the quality of the plantain produced in the South-Southeast region of the country, UJAT researchers have begun to develop new alternatives to improve the safety of the fruit, and to give producers tools and techniques that enable them to optimize their production costs.
The research professor at the Academic Division of Agricultural Sciences, said the use of agrochemicals to treat diseases such as black sigatoka in bananas, can take up to 35 percent of total expenditure that producers allocate to each hectare.
Given this situation, currently, several entities have been working on a project called "Integrated program for plantain crop management driving good field and safety practices based on research and application of biotechnology tools" developed in conjunction with specialists from Yucatan, Chiapas, the University of
Chapingo, and the National Institute for Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries (Inifap).
"The overall objective is to promote through the cultural practices and biotechnology tools better management of the Black Sigatoka, which is a disease that affects plantains. It is caused by a fungus, which attacks the leaves, and once it penetrates it expands through them and if left alone it destroys the plant," he explained.
Being one of the most important diseases that cause major loss to producers, most of the project focuses on work from various disciplinary angles to try to mitigate the damage.
The research is divided into a number of guidelines, the first is to conduct in-depth studies of Mycosphaerella fijiensis, which is the name of the fungus that causes the disease, since it has been proven that the fungicides work with all varieties of plantain.
"We must also identify where these spores are located. The other part relates to cultural management which refers when agrochemicals are not used but instead more traditional practices like the elimination of leaves or the use of organic products such as molasses, milk and even ashes are used," he explained.
He also indicated that they seek to introduce new plantain hybrids, the same which are more resistant to diseases, respond better to cultural management (because chemicals are not used), but characteristics such as flavor and weight have yet to be evaluated.
Publication date: 5/2/2012
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