DOMINICA: The Ministry of Agriculture, which has collaborated with the Caribbean Development Bank, (CDB) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) to implement an integrated disease management program for the Black Sigatoka disease, conducted taste tests on new banana varieties.
An exhibition took place on the grounds of Government Headquarters on Friday, April 29th.
The purpose of the exhibition was to conduct a research on five varieties of bananas tolerant to the disease which have been introduced in Dominica.
On display were the Fair1, Fair3, Fair18 and Fair23 bananas and Fair21 is plantain.
In an interview with GIS News, research assistant, Gregory Linton, expounded on Friday’s activity.
“The whole purpose of the exercise was to conduct a taste test and get the public’s feedback. We may have a variety which is very productive and disease tolerant but if [consumers] do not like it, it doesn’t make sense [to produce it.]
“The hope is to substitute these varieties as good alternatives for the traditional Cavendish. That would reduce the disease inoculums in the environment and reduce the cost of managing the disease.”
He said the data collected in the field has met their expectations. Linton noted that these varieties are more tolerant to the Black Sigatoka disease than the traditional Cavendish.
“There are six stages of Black Sigatoka. At stage three, spraying is a no-no because fungicides don’t work. We have found that in the tolerant varieties, the disease doesn’t reach stage three. The disease affects them but the life cycle cannot be completed.”
Linton stated that this research was requested by the Ministry of Agriculture in a continued effort to manage the Black Sigatoka disease.
He assures that the management programme is active: monitoring officers go out weekly and regular spray cycles continue.
Linton hopes to get a positive feedback from the public. If favorable responses are received, these varieties will be planted on a large scale in Dominica.