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Contact: Claudia Monlouis

Friday, August 18, 2006 The farming sector has just received the all clear for black sigatoka infestation, following a thorough survey spearheaded by the Banana Emergency Recovery Unit - BERU. Alongside this accomplishment, a decrease in the disease level of the yellow sigatoka has also been registered.

Programme Manager of BERU Mr. Hilary La Force says they will remain proactive and are looking at preparing for the possible identification of the disease on the island at at some point in the future.

But in the meantime every effort is being made to ensure it does not come in, using strict quarantine measures to avoid its entry but if it gets into Saint Lucia, we have already began to put an action plan in place to deal with its management which can be pretty expensive of course, because it's more expensive than controlling the yellow sigatoka, it's a major cost to banana production in St. Lucia.

Where the Yellow Sigotoka is concerned La Force says a stringent monitoring system has assisted in keeping the infestation in check.

The last three years have been the best. The extent to which the management of that disease has been carried out it has been very, very good. Managing the infestation does not only involve the treatment, but involves monitoring and the BERU has engaged a company called Agrico to do the monitoring. They provide t the disease levels are at any one time and making recommendations for treatment.

The most potent banana disease is Black Sigatoka, an air-borne fungus that affects banana production in virtually all the major banana producing regions. Isolated from this risk by the Caribbean Sea, the Windward banana industry suffers from a much milder strain of the Sigatoka disease (the Yellow Sigatoka) that requires far less spraying of fungicide to keep it under effective control.

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