Panama dis­ease threat­ens Caribbean ba­nana pro­duc­tion

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

The United Na­tions Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO) has urged ba­nana farm­ers in the Caribbean to take a proac­tive ap­proach against the deadly Panama dis­ease.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials in the sec­tor, the fun­gal dis­ease could spell trou­ble for food pro­duc­tion.

The FAO, in is­su­ing the warn­ing, says the dis­ease could wipe out the sec­tor and poses the big­gest threat to the re­gion’s ba­nanas since the Black Si­ga­toka dis­ease in 1991. Saint Lucia’s agri­cul­ture min­is­ter says for the small is­lands of the Caribbean, the best re­sponse in­cludes col­lab­o­ra­tion and the adop­tion of pre-emp­tive mea­sures.

“This is not a threat only that Saint Lucia is con­cerned about, so there­fore at the re­gional level, the gov­ern­ments, through the min­istries of agri­cul­ture, are discussing, first of all to see how best we keep this dis­ease out of our is­lands,” said Moses Jn Bap­tiste.

Ac­cord­ing to the FAO, the ba­nana is the eighth most im­por­tant food crop in the world and the fourth most im­por­tant food crop among the world’s least-de­vel­oped coun­tries, in­clud­ing the Caribbean.

The FAO says the Panama dis­ease is pos­ing a se­ri­ous threat to pro­duc­tion and ex­port of the fruit with grave reper­cus­sions for the ba­nana value chain and liveli­hoods.

The dis­ease is soil-borne and the fun­gus can re­main vi­able for decades.

Once the dis­ease is present in a field, the FAO said it can­not be fully con­trolled by cur­rently avail­able prac­tices and fungi­cides.

It said the best way to fight the dis­ease is to pre­vent its spread, which in­cludes avoid­ing move­ment of dis­eased plant ma­te­ri­als and in­fected soil par­ti­cles.

– Ja­maica Ob­server

Caribbean ba­nanas un­der threat . . . again.

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