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CARDI, CDB to conduct Black Sigatoka Disease training workshop

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The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), will be conducting a workshop on the “Integrated Disease Management of Black Sigatoka Disease (BSD)” from August 24 to September 4.

An opening ceremony will be held on Monday, August 24 at the National Insurance Services (NIS) conference room, Kingstown, beginning at 9 a.m.{{more}}

The training workshop seeks to strengthen the capacity of BSD management teams in the Ministry of Agriculture and banana and plantain organizations, extension officers and farmers.

According to a release from the Ministry of Agriculture, plant pathologist Dr Robert Power from Suriname will facilitate this workshop. Dr Power has extensive experience in managing BSD in commercial banana production exported to Europe.

A combination of classroom, laboratory and field sessions will be utilized to deliver a dynamic programme to participants. It will focus on phyto-pathological cycle of the disease, epidemiology, integrated disease management, climatic forecasting methods and measuring disease intensity with a view towards developing and sustaining robust detection, monitoring and management strategies for St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The classroom sessions will be conducted at the National Insurance Service training room, field sessions on the farm of Denzil Bacchus in Montreal Gardens and the CARDI Research Station at Rabacca, and laboratory sessions at the Plant Protection Unit Laboratory.

BSD is a fungal borne disease, which is a major constraint to banana and plantain production. Approximately, 97 per cent of all banana and plantain varieties grown in the Caribbean are susceptible to BSD. It was first detected in the region in 1991 and by 2012 it was recorded in all the banana and plantain producing countries in the Caribbean, where it has been responsible for a drastic decline in production. BSD reduces the leaf surface area of the plants, which in turn affects their photosynthetic ability, consequently leading to a reduction in the size and weight of the fruit and bunches by as much as 35-50 per cent, early and uneven ripening of the fruits and poor ratooning of the stools.

This capacity building workshop is one of three actions taking place under the CARDI/CDB funded project “Development of an Integrated Disease Management Programme for Black Sigatoka Disease” in Guyana, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia.

The other two are the development of an integrated disease management (IDM) plan for BSD and the introduction and evaluation of BSD tolerant varieties. It is envisioned that these three actions will work together synergistically to significantly improve disease management, resulting in higher yields for farmers. Bananas are an important commodity for the region’s small farmers, as it is a source of employment, income and food security. Banana and plantain exports also account for approximately one third of the export earnings of the Windward Islands.

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