Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Reginald Thomas has asked farmers to cease from transferring diseased crops and materials to unaffected planting sites.
Dr. Thomas made that plea while addressing numerous farmers from the north of the island who attended the first meeting of the Meet the Farmers Tour held in Portsmouth on Monday 15 May 2018.
He first addressed the issue of the Giant African Snail which has plagued farmers over the past years.
Dr. Thomas said the Giant African Snail is a very important pest that should not be taken lightly.
“We do not want the snail to spread across Dominica, because the implications for that, apart from the fact that it eats your crop, it becomes a nuisance for us,” he said.
He added that managing that snail has costed the ministry “several million dollars” and as such urged farmers to avoid moving material without consulting the ministry.
He noted that slug bait has been imported and “so you will see our staff around baiting the area to ensure that this thing doesn’t spread farther from where it is”.
Dr. Thomas also advised farmers against moving material infected with the Cucumber Mosaic Virus, which is “devastating to bananas” in addition to Black Sigatoka disease.
“Please do not use the planting material, do not move it from the site where they are. If you are not sure whether they are diseased, ask Plant Protection, ask the extension officer before you move them,” he advised.
Dr. Thomas indicated that tissue culture plants will soon be imported to the island and distributed to the farmers, but will be planted in unaffected areas.
“We have paid for, I believe, thirty thousand plants already, and they are just waiting for us to bring them in,” he informed.
The Ministry of Agriculture’s weaning facility at One Mile, Portsmouth was impacted by Hurricane Maria and as such they are unable to “get them ready for you”.
Dr. Thomas said a Chinese team is on island and seeking to restore the weaning facility, hence “as soon as that facility is up and running again, we can import the plants and get them to you”.
“So please do not move planting material from the affected area unless you have checked with us, please,” Dr. Thomas added.