The Ministry of Agriculture is strengthening its strategy to control the spread of the Citrus Greening Disease to new areas on the island.
The Citrus Greening Disease, also called Huanglongbing or Yellow Dragon disease, has been affecting citrus plants on the island since May 2012.
Since then, the Ministry and the Forestry Division developed and established an emergency action plan and was able to put together a rapid response strategy to contain the disease in the affected communities.
On Thursday Ryan Anslem of the Plant Protection Unit of the Division of Agriculture reported that the Citrus Greening disease is slowly spreading to new areas on the island.
Anselm said while the eradication program has been effective in affected communities, the Ministry has had to upgrade its Integrated Pest Management Strategy.
“You would recall that the Ministry of Agriculture developed a strategy which entails elimination of infested material with citrus greening and management of the vector which is the Asian Citrus Psyllid. The Ministry has also put in place proper quarantine and containment measures to prevent the movement of infested plant materials from one area to another,” he stated.
Anselm revealed that while the strategy has worked with some degree of success, the Ministry has noticed that the disease is in fact spreading to other areas.
“We are seeing that the disease is slowly spreading to other areas and that is why the Division of Agriculture has examined the integrated pest management strategy, because the disease has been found in new areas,” Anselm confirmed.
Anselm noted that the disease has so far been identified in the Portsmouth, Pointe Mitchel, Wesley and La Plaine regions and eradication programs have been ongoing.
“We have conducted eradication programs in Pointe Mitchel and the program is ongoing in Wesley to eradicate the dreadful disease from the island,” he noted.
As a continued eradication strategy, the Ministry of Agriculture is calling on farmers and members of the general public to refrain from moving planting material from affected areas to areas where the disease has not been intercepted.
“I have to remind the general public that the disease is a vector transmitted disease, which means an insect transmit the bacteria from tree to tree which makes the eradication process very difficult. We are also urging the general public and the farmers to assist the Ministry of Agriculture in not moving planting material from one area to another” the Agriculture official pointed out.
The Plant Protection and quarantine services of the Division of Agriculture have reiterated that it will continue to work with farmers affected by citrus greening to contain the disease.
The strategy according to Anselm will include “eliminating all infested trees in residential areas”.
Residents have been asked by Anselm “to be on the lookout for the disease and to comply with measures proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture to eradicate the disease”.