Jamaica on alert for prevention of banana, plantain diseaseTuesday, April 20, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica— The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries says the country continues to be on high alert for the prevention of the Tropical Race 4 (TR4), a deadly disease of banana and plantains.
The ministry noted that the disease is formerly known in Jamaica as Panama Disease Race 4 (PDR4).
The ministry's statement comes the world gets ready to celebrate International Banana Day on April 21.
Among the symptoms of the TR4 disease are premature yellowing of the oldest leaves and buckling of green leaves in Gros Michel bananas.
The ministry said that TR4 is a serious threat to the production of the crop with repercussions on livelihoods of smallholder producers, workers, traders and stakeholders along the banana and plantain value chain.
Additionally, most of the bananas produced locally are consumed. The disease, therefore, poses a significant threat to both food safety and food security.
General Manager of The Banana Board, Janet Conie, is reminding the public that importation of banana and plantain plants or plantlets is prohibited from countries where TR4 is present.
“If you visit banana/plantain fields in countries with TR4, you must leave the clothes or shoes in that country,” Conie said.
The Jamaica banana and plantain industry is a significant contributor to sustainable rural development, income generation, employment creation, foreign exchange earnings/savings; food security and stability with 68,612 farmers operating in the industry -- 15,290 commercial and 53,323 micro or subsistence.
Banana is an important staple food and a source of income for over 400 million people worldwide.
The ministry said that approximately 23 per cent of the bananas produced in Jamaica are non-commercial for consumption by family and friends and not traded. It is the cheapest starch or staple eaten in various forms by 98 per cent of the population.
The deadly disease of banana and plantain was discovered in the Americas in June 2019. Losses in Indonesia due to the disease is estimated at US$121 million and in Taiwan at US$253 million.
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