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The red spot threatens Peru's organic bananas

The use of pesticides or other chemicals is prohibited in organic farming. Thus, organic farmers must cope with their crops' eventualities naturally, only with the resources of the earth.

Organic bananas are being affected by the red spot thrip, a plague that has already affected crops in the north of Peru and in Ecuador. 

Thrips are insects that feed on vegetables, fruits, and cereals, among other things. After feeding on the plants, these insects leave white spots, surrounded by their droppings that look like black spots. In the past four years, organic banana plantations have begun to be affected by the attack of the thrips, which damage the quality of the fruit by staining the pericarp or fruit's rind with a reddish-brown colour that, in severe cases, can crack the fruit. In this regard, the deputy of Sullana's Productive Management said: "The red spot produces a stain on the fruit's skin. While it's true its presentation is damaged, this does not change the fruit's palatability or quality protein, but the change in appearance makes it less attractive for the export market. "

The main affected area is Piura. This region, which accounts for over 80% of organic banana crops in the country, is known for its dry climate, which is ideal for the development of red spot thrips. According to the National Organic Banana Board, estimates are that nearly 40% of the organic banana crops in this region are infected to a lesser or greater extent with this pest.

The measures taken by most of the producers are isolated solutions that do not comprise a comprehensive plan among all producers of this crop. In this regard, Julio Chicchón, president of the Association of Producers of Organic Banana from the San Lorenzo Valley, said there was a fund to counter the red spot, but that it wasn't operational because of bureaucratic issues.

According to Jorge Landeo, agricultural engineer in charge of ecological certification, the lack of a solution has lead many producers to stop being green. "Many banana producers have opted to stop being green because of this pest, as they have no alternative but to use chemicals." According to Landeo, the problem is that the producers don't have other support crops that make the pests more bearable. "The banana plantations are monocultures, where only bananas are grown. They don't have other species that could make the affectation of the main crop more tolerable. They haven't diversified and that's a problem for these producers," he said.

Source: Pro Expansion
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