Agricultural quarantine only for banana plants: MoAF

Muscat - 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) has allayed fears that the recently announced agricultural quarantine in some wilayats of North Batinah, will affect movement of all agricultural products.

Khamis al Mufarji, head of the department of Agriculture Permits, confirmed that the quarantine will only prevent the transfer of banana plants and its seedlings or off shoots outside the quarantine area and will not even affect the banana fruits.

The agricultural quarantine was imposed in the wilayats of Suwaiq, Saham and Sohar on Monday. The ministry deems it necessary as it's the first time that Panama disease has been reported in Oman.

“It cannot be ascertained for how long the quarantine will be in place, as it can take months to be sure of the eradication of disease. But, the new plantation of banana can continue,” Mufarji said.

He added that the disease is a serious threat to banana plantation. “It has been prevalent in South Asia and Australia, and placing quarantines around infected areas is one of the few protective methods that scientists have taken to prevent it from spreading.”

Also called Fusarium wilt and caused by the Fusarium oxysporum, the fungus originates in the soil and travels up the plant’s vascular system, essentially rotting it from the inside out.

Rashid al Badi, a farmer from Saham, who is into banana plantation, said that the decision is not going to affect their earnings. “As the movement of the fruit itself is not banned we can continue producing and sending to the markets.”

Mufarji added that an earlier quarantine announced in June to check the spread of Red Palm Weevil (RPW) is still in place. A dangerous pest of the date palm trees, RPW has affected six governorates of Musandam, Buraimi, Dakhliyah, North Batinah, South Sharqiyah and Dhahirah.

He said that a programme is underway to check and limit the spread of the pests and that the areas are still under observation.

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