Economy February 2, 2015 | 9:12 am

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‘Panama blight’ can wreak havoc on bananas, Exporters warn

Santo Domingo.- Dominican Exporters Association (ADOEXPO) president Sadala Khoury on Sunday warned that the "Panama blight" is wreaking havoc on banana plantations in several countries and asked the authorities to take steps to prevent damages to one of the country’s main export products.

He said income from bananas is more than US$200 million annually, and the main livelihood for thousands of families in southwestern and northeastern regions, and provides thousands of indirect jobs at harvest.

He said the government should take serious steps to deal with the dangerous pest that damages plantations at their root, "because we already had the experience of coffee rust which greatly reduced exports of that product."

In an emailed statement, the business leader e said to prevent is always cheaper than to fix. "We must invest the necessary resources to preserve our exports in this important sector."

Khoury said the Panama blight is a fungus that attacks the roots of some banana varieties and its resistance to fungicides has made it the most dangerous plague in history of that crop.

The blight is present in Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia and Africa, while Dominican Republic’s high temperature and humidity makes infestation possible, "since they’re conducive to the plants’ rapid growth they also spread the disease."

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