Rebuild Dominica and the Effort to Combat Black Sigatoka

Black Sigatoka Disease (BSD) is a fungal infection of the banana leaf which has plagued Dominica’s banana and plantain crops. In the wake of the Erika disaster, it is even more important to support the rebuilding of Dominica’s agriculture sector by such projects inspired and directed by collaboration between Dominicans, and friends of Dominica, at home and abroad.

BSD first identified in Dominica in 2012 is caused by the fungus Mycosphaerella fijiensis similar to Mycosphaerella musicola the cause of Yellow Sigatoka which we have usually called banana leaf spot. BSD affects both highly susceptible Cavendish banana cultivars such as Robusta and Giant Cavendish as well as plantains to a lesser extent. M. fijiensis is more aggressive than M. musicola and replaces it in countries it has invaded.

Infection begins on the young leaves as they emerge at the top of the plant and results in major necroses of leaves, destruction of photosynthetic leaf tissue, early immature ripening, and yield loss.

In our highly humid tropical environment there are two strategies for BSD control, fungicide control and selection of suitable resistant cultivars. Fungicide control is very expensive for cost of fungicides, labour cost as well as frequency of spray cycles. The two strategies can run currently..short term use of fungicides, good agronomic practices (soil testing, fertilizers, drainage, field sanitation, proper calibration of ground mistblowers etc) and longer term field testing and provision of resistant cultivars to farmers. For fungicide control optimal sprays should depend on single fungicides or mixtures of mostly systemic fungicides with different modes of action in banana spray oil or oil emulsions, a workable biological forecast system to reduce number of sprays and laboratory testing to detect early any development of fungicide resistance. Forecasting has been known to reduce sprays from over 40 per year to less than 10. We will need trained field personnel to do forecasts on weekly basis.

So for existing Cavendish and plantain farms and any new plantings. e.g with recently imported tissue culture Cavendish cultivars from VITROPIC in France, fungicide sprays will be necessary. Longer term solution will depend on partially resistant cultivars and/or genetically modified bananas. Dr Clayton Shillingford with collaboration of Errol Emanuel and Dr Davison Lloyd are field testing nine banana and two resistant plantain cultivars obtained from BIOVERSITY INTERNATIONAL, Belgium, the world’s largest Musa collection, to determine suitability for cooking, ripening for domestic and export markets and agroprocessing. The resistant cultivars seen here were weaned and hardened in DAPEX shade house, Fond Cole and are now planted in the field for evaluation..(rate of leaf emergence and total leaves, ratooning rate, measure of BSD compared to Cavendish cultivars, plant height at shooting, bunch weight and configuration, hand and finger size and shape etc). to be followed by cooking and ripening and organoleptic tests for taste, sweetness, texture etc. Water shortage is an important limiting factor in agriculture and the problem is likely to get worse as a result of climate change. Irrigation is routinely used but we will also field test the cultivars by phenotyping for drought.

Rebuild Dominica is supportive of the efforts to combat black sigatoka. We intend to promote the best practices in agriculture and industry. We have made a start. Donate here and help us finish the job!

black sigatoka

Black Sigatoka Resistant Cultivars: Rebuilding Dominica’s Agriculture Sector

Dominican soil scientist Dr. Davidson Lloyd plants black sigatoka resistant banana cultivars provided by plant pathologist Dr. Clayton Shillingford, President Emeritus of the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Black sigatoka is a fungal infection of the banana plant which has plagued the island’s banana crop. In the wake of the Erika disaster, it is even more important to support the rebuilding of Dominica’s agriculture sector by such projects inspired and directed by collaboration between Dominicans, and friends of Dominica, at home and abroad.




What Can a Volunteer Do to Rebuild Dominica?

A supporter of Dominica’s rebuild efforts called us one day and said: What can I do? I do not know what to do. Will I have the time?

My response was that we are all volunteers and that everyone is busy. However, where one chooses to form a committee to work on an area in which they have an interest, or skill, it would be the best way to go.

By teaming with others with a similar interest, we can Rebuild Dominica. As an organization, we are like a “junction box” – a place where we can collaborate with individuals, other organizations, and local and foreign governments to rebuild Dominica. We are an organization of Dominicans and friends of Dominica. We are open to all of humanity, and are committed to helping others in time to come where they may also have a need.

Volunteering ideas are endless. Here are some to help you get started:

  • Medicine/Healthcare – Join the Medical Committee.
  • Livestock – Form or join a group to replace livestock lost.
  • Engineering – Form or join a group to focus on rebuilding Dominica with best engineering practices.
  • Energy Group – Form or join a group that will introduce best renewable energy systems to Dominica.
  • Garden Club – Form or join a group that promotes agriculture and agriculture science on Dominica. By working with 4-H Clubs, the Dominica Botanic Gardens, and promoting school gardens we can rebuild with sustainability in mind.
  • Books/Reading/Writing – Form or join a book/reading/writing club to help our schools and libraries; and also to publish articles in local papers about our efforts.
  • Art – Form or join a committee to promote art work which can be sold to aid the rebuilding effort.
  • Music – Form or join a group that promotes music and concerts in aid of the rebuilding effort.
  • Sports – Form or join a sports committee so we can aid sports on island and host games overseas to raise funds.
  • Youth & Student Leadership – Form or join a group that encourages youth and student organizations such as the Dominica Cadet Corps, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Pathfinders, Junior Red Cross Society and student councils. Youth and students are the leaders of tomorrow and will be needed to rebuild.
  • Helping People with Disabilities – Form or join a committee to aid the blind, or physically handicapped.
  • Helping the Environment – Form or join a group which works to replant lost tree cover, and manage our rivers.
  • Emergency Services – Form or join a group to assist our police and fire service with emergency equipment to better protect the society.
  • Helping People in Need – Form or join a group to aid those in immediate need of support.
  • Spreading the Word – Join our media team so you can advocate/network for the long term rebuilding.
  • Cleaning Up Your Town or Village – Join or form a committee to keep our communities clean.
  • Working with Kids – Join or form a committee to collect toys and mentor kids.
  • Community Playgrounds – Join or form a committee to set up swing sets and simple playgrounds so kids can play again.
  • Dominica Chamber of Commerce – Form or join a group to aid and advocate for Dominica’s industry and to promote enterprise by networking between the local and international centers of production. In promoting production, we can aid Dominica’s exports and so rebuild income.
  • Dominica Culinary Arts Society – Form or join a group to promote Dominica’s cuisine as a fund raising tool.
  • Innovators Group – Form a committee to come up with ideas to rebuild Dominica.

CARIFESTA Partners With Rebuild Dominica

(Washington, DC ) — On Labor Day, in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika, Dominicans, and supporters of The Commonwealth of Dominica, came together during CARIFESTA.


The Washington DC Mayor’s Caribbean Commission, led by Barbadian born Margaret Forde, and CARIFESTA, led by Trinidad & Tobago born Arthur Griffith, both announced their support of Dominica. During this urgent time of need, they agreed to lead a relief campaign in partnership with Rebuild Dominica. CARIFESTA, a free Caribbean Music and Arts festival celebrating Caribbean-American heritage. Attendees of CARIFESTA attended the event with a donation in-hand through Monday, September 7, 2015.

Carifesta2015-stageDuring the event, CARIFESTA sponsored a centralized booth for Rebuild Dominica, which was manned by Rebuild Dominica officer, Michael Floissac and students from the Caribbean Students Association (HUCSA – Howard University). This provided a platform to build awareness and encourage more donations. Rebuild Dominica Chairman, Gabriel Christian, took to the stage with Spokesperson, Chardelle Moore, and the Honorable Ambassador Hubert Charles of Dominica to address over 2,000 attendees. Their plea requesting attendees pitch in to help Dominica was well received.


Numerous donations were collected in shipping barrels provided courtesy of Caribbean Cargo DC. The relief items and monetary donations collected will aid with relief efforts in Dominica. This partnership is only the first in a series of partnerships with organizations who have pledged to come together in solidarity to help restore Dominica. Items still needed are medical supplies, pampers, box juice, wooden pallets, towels, sheets, undergarments for men, women & children, deodorant, Paracetamol, Panadol, & water. Also needed are non-perishable foods, canned goods, clothing and shoes: for men, women, & children.


On August 27th 2015, dramatic and sudden floods brought on by Tropical Storm Erika devastated The Commonwealth of Dominica. The destruction that remains marks the worst flood-related loss that the island of Dominica has ever experienced since Hurricane David (1979). The damage is island-wide from the Douglas-Charles Airport in Marigot to the Canefield Airport: near the capitol city of Roseau. More damage continues from main roads in Layou to mountain roads in Petite Savanne. Industrial output has been degraded due to loss of production facilities. Utilities like water and power are also severely damaged. Agricultural production has suffered. Dominica now starts its journey to recovery. But, rebuilding Dominica will require international support. The entire village of Petite Savanne was washed away and villagers were forced to evacuate. Rebuild Dominica, Inc. launched to help Dominica after the devastation caused by flooding, which left over 100 villagers homeless and over 20 dead after Tropical Storm Erika.


About Rebuild Dominica is a relief organization based in the Washington, D.C. area and comprised of people determined to help rebuild Dominica in the wake of the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Erika. This non-profit raises and distributes funds, expertise and material resources to organizations and individual families that support the recovery and rebuilding efforts of communities on the Commonwealth of Dominica, impacted by floods from Tropical Storm Erika. The Rebuild Dominica organization aims to make a sustainable, long term impact, and focuses on programs that address the unmet needs of communities around Dominica. Please visit our About Us page to learn more.

Want To Help? is the official website for Rebuild Dominica, Inc. We encourage those who want to help victims of Tropical Storm Erika to make monetary donations via our online fundraiser at:


To established charities, such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army, which distribute donations to disaster relief agencies, please contact our Chairman, Gabriel Christian, at The Maryland Law Offices of Gabriel J. Christian & Associates (301.218.9400) or contact one of our officers to learn more about making donations, or mail your contribution. Please include a memo on the check designating that the donation is for Dominica relief. Send mail to:

Rebuild Dominica, Inc

c/o The Maryland Law Offices of Gabriel J. Christian & Associates

3060 Mitchellville Rd, Suite 216, Bowie, MD 20716


This write-up was prepared by the Media Relations Team at Rebuild Dominica. For more information regarding this post, contact LaDàna Drigo at 202.670.6489 or

Founded in 2015 in the wake of the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Erika, we are now organising relief from the direct hit by category five Hurricane Maria: the worst natural disaster in our nation's history.