MOKO Awareness Seminar In St. Thomas


Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) extension officers in St. Thomas are being trained to conduct mini surveys in the parish to ascertain whether the Moko disease is present.
Moko is a dangerous disease that affects mainly bananas and plantains. It is caused by the Ralstonia bacterium.
Speaking at a recent Moko awareness seminar held at the Village Green Restaurant in Morant Bay, Caswell Glover RADA Parish Agricultural Manager, informed that the extension officers would visit the small farms while the larger ones would be surveyed by representatives of the European Union Banana Support Programme (EUBSP).
The parish manager advised the farmers to inspect their fields on a weekly basis for signs of the disease. Any signs should be reported to the RADA, the EUBSP or the Jamaica Agricultural Society offices, he stated.
Clifton Wilson, Director of Technical Services at EUBSP, said that the Moko disease was initially found to have affected some eight hectares (20 acres) in St. James (and) “subsequently, we have found a few more acres.” He informed that the survey would determine the extent of the damage in the parish.Mr. Wilson said that Moko was a dangerous disease that could wipe out an entire plantation if not treated in the proper way. He noted that some persons were still confused about the disease, and the confusion was causing “a serious problem with the consumption of banana especially in western Jamaica. Moko does not affect any animal or human life. You can safely eat banana from a field that was affected with the disease,” he told the farmers.
Although the disease is dangerous, Mr. Wilson said that it could be controlled if detected early. He said that one of the early signs of the disease was the drooping and yellowing of the leaves of the plantain or banana plant and the premature ripening of the fruit.
He cautioned farmers not to cut the suckers of plants they suspect may have the disease, since this might expose the stains to other plants. “The stain inside the plant is highly concentrated with the disease,” he said, adding that it could spread to other areas by insects, birds and animals.
According to Mr. Wilson, the disease also affects ornamentals, especially heliconia, red ginger and other crops such as tomato, egg plant, cocoa, dasheen, pepper (sweet and hot).
The seminar, which was sponsored by the EUBSP, is the sixth in a series being held to inform plantain and banana farmers how to recognize the disease and the steps needed to contain it. So far, seminars have been held in the parishes of Portland, St. Mary and St. James where the disease has been found.
Topics discussed include the identification of Moko disease, methods of transmission, prevention and control measures and the eradication measures for Moko disease.

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