New Disease Affecting Yams In St. Lucia

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The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security, and Rural Development wishes to alert farmers and the public about a recently identified disease affecting yams. This is known as Yam Rust and is caused by a fungal pathogen. The Ministry of Agriculture recognizes the critical significance of yams as a staple tuber in our diet and its substantial contribution to farmers as a year-round cash crop supporting their livelihoods.

Yam Rust has been identified in various agricultural regions across the island. Rigorous laboratory testing has confirmed the existence of this disease. The affected yam varieties include White, Yellow, and Portuguese yams. It is imperative for farmers to consistently monitor their crops for any signs of infection. Early detection is crucial, and prompt corrective action is necessary to curtail the further spread of the disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture is actively collaborating with the farming community and our Agricultural Extension Division to implement effective control measures against Yam Rust. Farmers are strongly advised against moving planting materials from one location to another, as this practice significantly contributes to the transmission of the disease between farms. Travelers likewise are encouraged to avoid the illegal importation of yams and other planting material without the requisite permission or guidance.

In the upcoming weeks, the Ministry of Agriculture Crop Protection Unit will continue working in tandem with the Agriculture Extension Unit to provide guidance and advice to farmers on essential prevention and control measures. Furthermore, the Research Department will initiate a survey starting Monday, January 29, 2024, to assess the prevalence and extent of this disease across the entire island. The survey will provide the opportunity to understand the disease cycle within our ecosystem in order to provide disease management guidance to farmers.

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