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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 30, 2000 – The National/PINA Nius Online)---A major outbreak of a new banana disease could threaten future agricultural production in Papua New Guinea if preventative measures are not taken quickly, an expert has warned.

Ron Peterson of the Queensland Department Of Primary Industry (QDPI) told a luncheon seminar hosted by the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) in Lae on Monday, that both PNG and Irian Jaya are under threat from the new disease, called the blood disease.

"It is a serious banana disease, especially to the Pisang Kepok variety and other cooking bananas. It is caused by bacteria carried by insects, which attack the whole plant," Mr Peterson said.

He said the blood disease had spread rapidly across parts of Indonesia, causing devastation to whole plantations of susceptible bananas. Evidence of the disease has now been found in Timika, Irian Jaya.

"If it is allowed to spread, it will threaten all bananas of Papua (Irian Jaya), especially the cooking bananas," he said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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