Crisis in St Lucia over Black Sigatoka

Minister for Agriculture and Food Production Moses Jn. Baptiste said the country is facing a national crisis as the Black Sigatoka Disease continues to ravage the banana sector, a significant foreign exchange earner. The government has asked for help from a team of experts from the University of the West Indies to assist in fighting the disease.

The minister said the country’s response requires support from the highest level and from all St Lucians, to avoid total disaster. "A proactive and multifaceted approach is being taken to prevent widespread destruction of the sector, including a review of a short-term plan of action." Fungicides would also be provided to banana producers to spray plantations, he stated.

“In addition the Ministry has prepared a proposal, which details an action plan and suggests that a Task Force may be necessary to deal with the problem of Black Sigatoka. This proposal will go to my Cabinet colleagues for their consideration this week. It will also encompass all banana and plantain farmers and there will also be a very serious and sustained education component to this plan.”

Black Sigatoka is a leaf spot disease caused by ascomycete fungus Mycosphaerella fijiensis (Morelet). The first symptoms are narrow, rusty, reddish-brown streaks on the underside of leaves.

Source: www.caribbean360.com


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