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Thursday, 07 April 2011

Fighting the emergence of banana diseases in the Caribbean

The newly launched Cabaré project has as its objective the dissemination in the Caribbean of new varieties of banana free from any phytosanitary risks. CIRAD is coordinating the project, funded by the Interreg IV Caribbean programme, in partnership with three research organizations in Cuba and another in the Dominican Republic. Banana and plantain play a key role in food security and the socioeconomic balance of the whole Caribbean region. The emergence of new diseases, in particular Black Sigatoka, or black leaf streak, caused by a fungus, is threatening the long-term cultivation of these crops. However, the export market is highly dependent on a single variety (Cavendish), which is highly susceptible to Black Sigatoka. Current protection measures involve regular, frequent – and thereby expensive and polluting – aerial fungicide treatments. There are only two countries in the Lesser Antilles, Dominica and Guadeloupe, that are still free from Black Sigatoka. However, the disease has been spreading through the region for the past fifteen years, and is now a direct threat to these countries. In order to control the disease effectively in the long term, it is necessary to develop cropping systems based on the use of resistant hybrid varieties.

Source: CIRAD