JIS News

Sensitising farmers about the dangers of the Moko disease and the ways to handle it when detected, was the major focus of the Portland Farmers Agricultural Exposition organized by the Portland branch of the Jamaica Agricultural Society and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) at Folly Oval in Port Antonio on Thursday, March 25.
The show was held despite the cancellation of similar events including the St. Mary Agricultural Expo and the Montpelier Show out of fear that they might facilitate the spread of the disease, which could destroy the banana industry.
However, JAS Organiser for Portland, Thelma Williams told JIS News that the show was held to educate farmers and the general public about the symptoms and problems associated with the disease.
A number of organisations mounted exhibition booths at the show including, JAMAL, the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ridge to Reef Project, the National Screwworm Eradication Programme, Digicel Jamaica Limited, the Port Antonio High School 4-H Club, and several JAS branches in Portland.
Giving the main address at the show, Clifton Wilson, Director of Technical Services for the Banana Export Company (BECo), gave an update on efforts being made by the company to educate farmers in the parish about the disease, and gave the assurance that bananas which were infected could still be eaten as the disease did not pose a threat to human health.
He noted that BECo was currently in the process of sponsoring a number of workshops for the purpose of informing farmers about the symptoms of the disease, as well as what to do when it was detected. Mr. Wilson also said that a hotline had been established at the BECo office in Port Antonio to facilitate a swift response to any detection of the disease.
Informing that the hotline number was 993-4245, Mr. Wilson said it was of critical importance for anyone noticing anything resembling the symptom of the disease to call the hotline immediately so that it could be investigated.
Emphasising that the disease could be eradicated if it was detected early and treated properly, Mr. Wilson urged the general public to exercise a great deal of care in their effort to control the spread of the disease as the movement of people was a major factor facilitating that process.
He also implored farmers and the general public to avoid purchasing planting material from Western Jamaica until the disease was eliminated, as that was the area in which the disease had been discovered.
Declaring that public cooperation and proper treatment was the only way in which the problem could be successfully addressed, the BECo Technical Officer said it was incumbent on everyone to do what was necessary to ensure the elimination of the disease and the survival of the banana industry.

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