HLB disease could affect 60% of Mexico's citrus industry
Mexico's agricultural sanitary service has announced Huanlongbing (HLB), or 'citrus greening disease', could affect 60% of the country's citrus plantations if action is not taken, website Imagenagropecuaria.com reported.
The National Sanitary Service of Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA) said the disease spread quietly through insects and could damage 330,000 hectares of Mexico's citrus crops, the story reported.
SENASICA director Enrique Sánchez Cruz told the website the disease was transmitted by the insect Diaphorina citri and couldn't be detected quickly, eventually blocking circulation and depriving fruits and leaves of nutrients, leading to deformation.
"If we don't do anything 60% of citriculture could be affected. That's a lot," he was quoted as saying.
SENASICA figures show the country's citrus industry is worth up to 10 billion Mexican pesos (US$862 million) annually, with 549,000 hectares of cultivation that provides employment for 70,000 farmers.
The service has invested 238 million Mexican pesos (US$20.5 million) to fight the disease over the last three years, with phytosanitary controls introduced in the states of Campeche, Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit, Michoacán, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa and Yucatán, the story reported.
The disease has not yet been detected in the states of San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, Puebla, Querétaro, Veracruz, Tabasco, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Morelos, Sonora, Baja California Sur and Baja California.
To combat the disease the Diaphorina citri-fighting insect Tamarixia radiata has been put in laboratories in Mérida, Yucatán and Colima, with the goal of mass production to introduce to farms. The labs plan to produce 700 insects for distribution in May.
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