Dominica’s Banana Industry is to benefit from a timely injection of tissue cultured banana plants.
The plants arrived on island on Wednesday 28 February 2018, from the French Overseas Department of Martinique. It represents a tangible contribution of the French authorities to assisting Dominica’s banana industry recover from the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused.
Angus McIntyre, Agriculture Officer with responsibility for the project explained to Dominica Vibes that the shipment of 2,200 banana plantlets represents the first of two such shipments. The next shipment is due here in four weeks.
Last month a French Technical Mission from the neighbouring island of Martinique visited Dominica and met with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers chosen to pilot this new introduction.
McIntyre explained that this is a truly experimental phase for this variety of bananas (Gal clone) which originated from Israel and brought to the islands via France. As such it is necessary to undertake further research on the plant’s performance.
Apart from distribution to three or four already identified farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture will retain a certain number for its own research and demonstration purposes.
The plant has certain physiological properties that are not presently in existence on island he explained, “It’s a Cavendish variety, producing a bigger bunch on a shorter plant, with fruiting will start at least one month earlier. It also has some tolerance to nematodes”.
McIntyre explained that Hurricane Maria dealt a severe blow to the banana industry thus the need to import new planting stocks.
He said some 14,000 plantlets were destroyed at the Agriculture Station in One Mile Portsmouth due to flood waters during Maria; the industry also suffered from broken banana stems.
Whilst some farmers have already returned to their fields and undertook some cleaning of their fields and replanting of the bananas, it is still uncertain as to how many commercial banana farmers are involved as the information is not yet available. Thus the introduction of this plant is expected to be very beneficial to the industry.
He disclosed that Dominica has already paid for a large consignment of banana plants from France. In the not-too distant future, the industry will benefit from a further 30,000 plants (Bamboo clone banana) that the government of Dominica has ordered from the Republic of France.