CASTRIES’ BANANA SECTOR HIT BY FUNGAL DISEASE
Officials in St. Lucia confirm that black sigatoka, a fungal disease, has been found in the area and represents a serious threat to its struggling banana industry.
Ezekiel Joseph, St. Lucia Agricultural Minister, said the disease would found on a plantation in the southeastern part of the island.
Authorities are investigating various measures required to control or eradicate the disease.
Joseph was in the process of convening an emergency meeting to plan a way forward in combating the infestation which has already been discovered in several neighbouring islands, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and Martinique.
Black Sigatoka is a leaf spot disease that can cut a banana tree’s fruit production in half. The fungal disease causes dark leaf spots that eventually enlarge, causing much of the leaf area to turn yellow and brown.
Joseph said that Black Sigatoka is a difficult and expensive disease to control, noting that an estimated 15 to 20 per cent of the price of bananas is due to the cost of the disease control measures that are used to produce the fruit.