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Operation Cut Back nears suspension, making way for full Operation Plant Back

Operation Cut Back nears suspension,  making way for full Operation Plant Back

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Operation Cut Back will be suspended on November 1, making the way for a “ramping up” of the process of replanting bananas, Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar says.{{more}}

Caesar told SEARCHLIGHT on Monday that the suspension of Operation Cut Back comes after successfully reducing the Cronshaw level from 7.9 to 2.2. The Cronshaw level gives an indication of the rate of Black Sigatoka development in bananas.

Operation Cut Back has thus far cost the Ministry EC $137,000, the minister said.

“We have successfully reduced those outrageous levels which were of great concern. The next task at hand will be to continue Operation Plant Back and we intensify the replanting process, when we receive the 270,000 banana plants from Israel,” he said.

Those banana plants are expected to arrive here by mid-October, according to the Minister.

Caesar also said it is expected that by September next year, the bananas which are planted in Operation Plant Back would show a significant increase in export volumes.

“It is still very early days to actually see a reflection in quantities,” he said, primarily because the farmers who are exporting bananas now, are those who would have “survived” through Operation Cut Back.

To date, 314 banana fields totalling 529.25 acres have been cut back.

“So, there are some persons who didn’t have to cut back their entire fields and were able to control the disease on their fields and those are the persons who are still shipping. That’s why the quantities have not gotten back to the levels that we would want them to be.

“However, it was a process of control and then a process of replanting and then the next process will be reaping,” he said.

Since the commencement of Operation Plant Back in June, 86 acres of bananas have been replanted. The largest acreages planted so far are in Colonarie and Byera, with a combined total of 34 acres.

The financial input support for Operation Plant Back, thus far, has amounted to EC$155,000, the minister said in a release.

Caesar also disclosed that the Ministry of Agriculture has been commended by regional governments for their swift actions in controlling the Black Sigatoka disease.

The disease is said to be highly present in other Caribbean territories, including Dominica, St Lucia and Grenada.

“We have been commended as setting the track record in our efforts to control the disease. However, we’re not going to become swell headed and take our feet off the accelerator. We in the Ministry of Agriculture, along with our devoted farmers, are going to continue with those swift actions to ensure our banana industry overcomes this disease,” Caesar said.(AA)

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