Costa Rica faces threat of citrus greening

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Gill McShane

BY GILL McSHANE

Costa Rica faces threat of citrus greening

Growers are on high alert after the insect which carries the disease was confirmed present in the Central American country

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The Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) is reportedly stepping up its efforts to prevent the spread of citrus greening disease after authorities confirmed the insect which carries the disease is present and reproducing in the country.

“The potential for this disease to affect the Central American region is very high because the spread of insects is caused by natural phenomena such as hurricanes and tropical storms which regularly occur in the region,” explained Jorge Arturo Solano, who heads up the Ministry’s phytosanitary programme.

In conjunction with the private sector, universities and the US Embassy, MAG is currently working together with small- and medium-sized growers as well as nurseries to develop different ways in which to reduce the threat.

Citrus greening, also called Huanglongbing or yellow dragon disease, is one of the more serious citrus diseases and could severely affect Costa Rica’s citrus industry, particularly oranges, which produces around 400,000 tonnes each year.

Earlier this year, Costa Rican producer Ticofrut discovered a large quantity of psyllid insects, which transmit the disease, on its groves in Los Chiles de Guanacaste.

This bacterial disease is thought to have originated in China in the early 1900s and was detected two years ago in Florida, the US, where it has could extensive damage to orange groves.

 

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