Crop diseases cause millions in losses

Each year new crop diseases are affecting crop produce in the DR. The rice crops are affected by mites that bore into the stems and cause the rice husks to be dried out and empty of any grains. Citrus crops, especially the lime crop are also affected.

Particularly hard hit are bananas and plantains. The fungus known Black Sigatoka, that kills the plants and cannot be cured, only prevented, has hit these crops. Only some varieties are resistant to the fungus. The Sigatoka fungus has been especially harmful given the frequent rains that have been favorable for its spread. The hurricanes and local windstorms have further decreased supplies of plantains on the local markets to levels heretofore unknown. As a result, plantains are selling for RD$8 a piece at local markets.

According to Porfirio Alvarez, a technician working with the Agricultural Business Board (JAD), Black Sigatoka has spread into the areas of the Central Cibao Valley, particularly Moca and La Vega, where it has not been a problem in the past and where the farmers have never had to spray their crops in prevention.