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Abandoned banana, plantain fields being cut back

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Beginning yesterday, abandoned banana and plantain fields throughout the state are being cut back by the Ministry of Agriculture.{{more}}

On Monday, three teams of Pest Control Operators converged on over 75 acres of abandoned banana and plantain fields in the Marriaqua Valley.

A release from the Ministry said, over the next two weeks, they will work to cut down and spray affected trees, rendering the farms unsuitable for the harvesting of planting materials.

This action the Ministry said, is being taken because of “the threat presented to efforts at rehabilitating the Banana Industry.”

According to Chief Agricultural Officer, Reuben Robertson, an abandoned field refers to those holdings that are affected by the leafspot diseases, yellow and black sigatoka, and on which no measure of cultural practices have been carried out for a considerable period. Robertson stated that the fields act as an innoculum or source for the fungus, which is easily transferred by the wind and other means, to fields that have been treated and taken care of. He also stated that the cutback operations will commence with farmers who have agreed with the actions of the Ministry.

In the meantime, the Ministry intends to hold a meeting with the other reluctant farmers to bring about an amicable solution to the completion of the operations. Robertson has advised that after the meeting, no other consideration will be given to any further resistance, as the Ministry will be acting in accordance with the laws relating to The Plant Protection Act of 2005. This Act seeks to control the spread of plant pests and to protect plant resources in St Vincent and the Grenadines. It allows for the Ministry to enter the affected premises and take whatever action is deemed necessary for the control and eradication of the pest, if the owner refuses to do so when advised.

Farmers in the Marriaqua Valley are therefore being asked to cooperate fully and to treat the exercise as one that is necessary to protect the banana industry.

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