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Saint Lucia has recorded increased banana production since Tropical Storm Bret destroyed seventy-five percent of the Island’s banana and plantain crops on June 22.
But Black Sigatoka disease poses a threat.
Agriculture Minister Alfred Prospere recalled that the storm’s devastation to bananas and plantains resulted in a ‘food crisis.’
He told reporters on the margins of a Cabinet meeting that farmers were not generating an income.
However, he said that based on information from the Banana Management Unit, there had been an increase in banana production.
“The assessment revealed that in week 51, we are seeing an increase in production of between 3,000 to 3,500 boxes a week,” Prospere stated.
He said within eight weeks the industry expects production to be almost nine thousand boxes weekly.
However, the Agriculture Minister explained that Saint Lucia has yet to reach 15,000 boxes weekly, which its market requires.
He hoped the banana growers would return to production with the government’s continued assistance, including fertilisers.
Prospere told reporters that while the post-Bret increased banana production was good news, Saint Lucia also recorded a spike in Black Sigatoka disease, threatening bananas and plantains.
“We have agreed to tackle the hot spots,” the Minister revealed.
He told reporters those areas included Dennery, Micoud, and Roseau.
Prospere said his Ministry was trying to support farmers with oil spray to control the disease.
Nevertheless, he observed that recent rainfall was not conducive to Black Sigatoka disease control.
“So we are hoping that our farmers would get some relief in terms of treating their plantations, their fields so they can continue to generate an income from bananas,” the Minister said.
Black Sigatoka is a devastating leaf disease of bananas around the world.
Infected leaves die early, reducing fruit yield and causing mixed and premature ripening fruit.