Jamaica News: Farmers are being urged to be vigilant in identifying and reporting any suspected case of the Tropical Race 4 Disease (TR4), so that measures can be put in place to safeguard the Jamaican banana and plantain industry against this potential threat.
General Manager of the Banana Board, Janet Conie, says farmers have an important role to play in safeguarding the industry.
“We are asking them to be vigilant and to attend the training sessions that we have in the communities, so that they can learn what the disease looks like and identify it early, so you can call the Banana Board early. The earlier we find it, the easier it is to contain, but prevention is critical,” she emphasises.
Mrs. Conie was speaking at a media briefing on the management of the threat of the TR4 disease, on Wednesday (October 9), at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hope Gardens, in Kingston.
The General Manager said that while the Ministry is conducting public awareness programmes about the TR4, farmers have a responsibility to raise the alarm if they see evidence of the disease.
“We are doing a lot of public awareness in the communities, but the farmers have the first responsibility because they are the ones who have the farms and will see it first. We are asking them to keep themselves [informed] by attending the training sessions,” she said.
The General Manager outlined several precautions that banana and plantain farmers must take to protect crops.
“What we have are control points for farmers to use. We are engaging farmers now to ensure that they prevent the disease from coming here. They must ensure that only authorised persons enter their farms and to restrict access to farms by persons who have visited banana farms overseas,” Mrs. Conie said.
“We are telling them to prevent persons who have visited banana farms overseas, especially in Latin America and Colombia, from coming on your farm, unless it is absolutely necessary,” she added.
Farmers are also advised to keep a register of visitors to farms to facilitate traceability.
Other safety measures are the provision of foot bags at the entrance to farms to contain possible contamination by the TR4 disease, as well as construction of fencing around farms to prevent intruders from entering farms.
Importantly, she warned farmers against carrying or admitting planting material from overseas on their farms, as these may carry the disease.
The fungus is spread through infected plant materials and infested soil particles attached to any item such as farm tools, shoes, clothes, animals and vehicles.
Symptoms include premature yellowing, buckling and dying of leaves and plant; splitting at the base of the trunk, and darkening of water and food channels of the banana and plantain varieties.
Suspected cases of the TR4 disease should be reported to the Ministry’s Plant Quarantine Branch at (876) 977-0637, (876) 977-6401 or the Banana Board at (876) 922-2083, (876) 383-7235.
Source: JIS News