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Gov’t to rehabilitate ravaged banana farms in Mindanao

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DAVAO CITY – The government is willing to allocate the necessary budget to contain the disease that affected a total of over 600 hectares of banana plantation in Mindanao.

This was announced Wednesday by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala during a face-to-face meeting with regional officials of the department here and banana industry sector in Mindanao to discuss measures on how to contain fusarium wilt, also known as Panama disease, that ravaged banana plantations in the island.

Alcala said the meeting served as a consultation and presentation of recommendations from the DA to the private sector on the strategies to take to contain the disease.

However, not yet determined the specific amount of financial assistance which the government would provide to affected banana farmers after a comprehensive inspection of all the affected areas.

Fusarium infected areas in the Davao Region particularly Davao del Norte, Davao City and Compostela Valley Province covering 634,700 hectares of banana plantations. Data showed that the affected areas produced a total of 579,464 metric tons of bananas in 2010.
Among the recommendations which DA raised to the affected farmers is the conduct of total coordination with DA and other directly concerned national government agencies.

“Sila ang magaling sa industriya, so kailangan nilang magcoordinate sa DA particularly on R&D (research and development) (They are the experts in the industry, so, they have to coordinate with the DA particularly on R&D). We will allot budget and support the farmers. Whatever necessary budget needed to contain the problem, we will provide,” Alcala said.
Alcala said DA will identify the affected areas that need to be cordoned and look for other areas for replacement. He said the private sector has to help the government put in place necessary quarantine measures and issuance of local ordinances.

He said there is a need for a comprehensive inspection of the areas to determine the extent of damage and the appropriated remedies to take.

Alcala said one of the possible recommendations is for the farmers to plant other crops pending the rehabilitation of the damage plantations.

Panama disease is one of the most destructive plant diseases. It is a soil-borne fungus that attacks banana plant’s vascular system and obstructs the uptake of water and soil nutrients resulting to wilting and death of the plants.

The DA Davao through its High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) has already organized a task force that will work on the implementation of quarantine measures and information drive.

By PNA/PIA9-ZBST




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