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Suriname to help Caribbean fight Black Sigatoka

Suriname is preparing to help the rest of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom) fight the dreaded Back Sigatoka disease that can wipe out plantain and banana farms, a senior regional official said Wednesday.

That disease was recently found in several parts of Guyana, but it now appears to be under control after that country’s National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) brought in microbiologists, plant pathologists and other experts.

Executive Director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Dr. Arlington Chesney announced at the opening of Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) 2014 that his organization and Suriname’s Centre for Agricultural Research (CELOS) would later this week sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

“Once this is done, there will be a greater availability of technology and processors from the region to Suriname and vice versa. We will be starting the collaboration in the control of Black Sigatoka diseases, utilizing some of the procedures and processes that Suriname has developed,” he said at the CWA being held under the theme “Transforming Caribbean Agriculture through Family Farming.”

Chesney, who is the outgoing CARDI boss,  regarded the scheduled inking of the MoU as a significant development leading up to Suriname eventually becoming a member of the Trinidad-based CARDI.

Black Sigatoka is a  fungal disease, kills banana and plantain trees by discolouring and  drying up their leaves. A number of Caribbean islands have been also severely affected by the disease.

Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan added that the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) has recently filled the very important vacancy of Chief Executive Officer after four long years. “I also hope that with the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer CHAFSA now will become really operational,” she said.

CAHFSA is expected to be the Caribbean’s premier food and animal safety agency that would develop internationally acceptable sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards for crops, livestock and marine species that would be sold regionally and internationally. A number of countries, including Guyana and Suriname, have developed several established a number of high-tech laboratories to test for animal and plant diseases.

Experts hope that new regimes being developed and implemented rigidly would virtually eliminate the capricious application of non-tariff barriers to shut out agriculture goods and products to avoid competition in domestic markets.

The United Nations has designated 2014 as “The International Year of Family Farming.”

The Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is among several organizations that have helped organize CWA 2014. The others are the Surinamese government, CARDI, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN), Caribbean Agri-Business Association (CABA) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

under the theme