Guyana’s National Agricultural, Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) will be joining hands with the Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname (CELOS) to fight the Black Sigatoka disease that has already taken its toll on banana and plantain cultivations across the Caribbean, officials said Friday.
NAREI’s involvement would be done through the Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute (CARDI) which signed a collaborative agreement with CELOS on Friday on the margins of the 13th Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) in Paramaribo, Suriname.
“We are also working with NAREI in this respect. What this does is to bring additional expertise to te table. The problem of Black Sigatoka is large so we need to bring all available expertise to bear. Until now, the Surinamese expertise was not available to us so now that we have this expertise, we will blend it and perhaps come up with a better set of practices,” said CARDI’s Executive Director, Dr. Arlington Chesney.
Chesney noted that Suriname has found a way to use fewer sprays and the two sides would exchange information on Sigatoka-resistant species. He observed that spraying alone was not the solution but that has to be blended with the scientific culture of the pest.
CELOS Director, Dr. Inez Demon said her organization has experts who have conducted doctoral research on the pest. Guyana, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines would be the direct beneficiaries of that aspect of the collaboration, although the rest of the region would not be left out.
In other areas, Chesney said funding was available to mobilize and conduct research in the disease and implement activities of the agricultural research plan.
“It solidifies the intent of the two institutions to work together towards developing research for better socio- economic aspects of agriculture for the Caribbean people,” added Dr. Demon.
She said that in the coming months CARDI and CELOS would be crafting a detailed work-plan on areas of plant pathology and cultivation systems among other areas.
The Caribbean Week of Agriculture this week again discussed the importance of ensuring that the region has laboratories and expertise to boost plant and animal health surveillance as part of steps to maximise intra and extra-regiona trade in food products.