Melvin James, a pest and disease specialist in the Department of Agriculture, in a recent interview on Agriscope, stated that it is suspected that a disease by the name of ‘Budrot’ seems to be affecting the plants, but insist that the Department is not entirely sure, but with the symptoms they have seen can comfortably say it can be that.
James said, “We are going to continue our efforts as we are working very tirelessly in getting contacts with the Jamaican Coconut Industry Board so we can send them a sample so we can get an idea of what we are working with.”
James also noted that the decline in prominence of the Coconut Palm is a major concern for residents because the coconuts and other palms have become a symbolic plant of tropical countries including St. Kitts with many tourism logos and promotions using a palm tree.
The Agriculture official also explained that this disease differs from the disease that plagued the coconut trees in Nevis a number of years ago.
James said, “A lot of comparisons have been made between St. Kitts and Nevis because both islands are facing the death of coconuts and so a lot of us simply say, having known that is started in Nevis, we have drawn the conclusion that what has happened in Nevis simply came across to St. Kitts, but the majority of the plants lost in Nevis were lost to a disease called lethal yellow.”
James outlined that Budrot has been here in St. Kitts for many years but it was never usually a problem, but in the last 8-10 years it has become a significant problem.
He also revealed that the entire palm family can be affected by the disease but he has only seen it affecting the coconuts and also has stated that if the palm trees in the forest areas become affected there will have to major deforestation of the forested area in order to control the disease.