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Disease plagues St. Vincent bananas

Farmers have high hopes for bio-fungicide against Black Sigatoka

Black sigatoka, the disease that affects banana plants, has hit growers in the island of St. Vincent. Banana growing countries such as St. Vincent & Grenadines depend heavily on banana sales to support their economies. While the disease is widespread now, local growers have heard of a new bio-fungicide named Timorex Gold, that combats Black sigatoka effectively in other banana growing countries.

Many growers are asking why the government has never used this approach. “It's rough,” one grower remarked, “it's a very sad situation – hundreds of jobs are on the line.” Adding to farmers' frustrations is the feeling the government has not done enough to deal with the disease. “In 2009, there were sightings of this,” says one farmer, “and now the whole place is infected.” The disease affects banana plants and results in significantly lower crop yields.

A common approach to combat the disease is spraying bananas more frequently. However, pathogen resistance to chemical fungicides is widely spread. Resistance builds up during exposure to fungicide treatment. Thus, higher frequency of application is required. Today, banana plants are being sprayed as much as 70 times per year. So, while chemical fungicide spraying is a good tool in combating Black sigatoka, it also has drawbacks.

The solution
Expressions from Vincentian Banana Farmers who have suffered from Black sigatoka disease already mentioned that they find the Ministry of Agriculture neglect in disease control. They wanted them to look at a new organic and eco-friendly product-Timorex Gold which is being used by South American, Asian and other farmers in controlling this and other diseases.

Timorex Gold, a bio-fungicide that combats Black sigatoka, has been suggested by Anesia Baptiste, a St. Vincent & Grenadines senator, as an alternative to conventional fungicides. The product, produced by the Stockton Group, prevents the plant disease from taking root and cures already infected plants. Traditional fungicides only help prevent the disease in its early stages.

“Timorex Gold curative activity has been widely demonstrated on commercial banana plantations,” says Ziv Tirosh, CEO of Stockton Group. “We’re proud that Timorex Gold can offer banana growers a reliable, eco-friendly and effective solution to one of the most damaging and costly banana diseases, Black sigatoka.”

Additionally, Timorex Gold doesn't establish resistance after application.

This, along with the fact that it's a natural product, has many local banana growers asking why their government has not used this approach.

As Anesia Baptiste, put it, “if our competitors from Central America are already using Timorex Gold, this is something the Minister of Agriculture should consider.”

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