Colombia starts citrus grower workshops to combat HLB

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Colombia starts citrus grower workshops to combat HLB

Colombia is strengthening its plant protection measures in a bid to prevent the deadly citrus greening disease Huanglongbing (HLB) taking root in the country.

The sap-sucking Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri is one of the key insects responsible for spreading the disease.

The Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Colombia's Horticultural Association (Asohofrucol) are working on a combined prevention strategy.

This will include collecting primary and secondary data about disease distribution, updating citrus plant import requirements and researching its possible presence in the country.

Work has already started in the citrus areas of Atlántico, Bolívar, Magdalena, Córdoba, Sucre, Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío, Valle del Cauca, Cundinamarca, Cauca, Boyacá, Meta, Casanare, Santander, Huila, Tolima, Norte de Santander, La Guajira and Cesar.

So far five out of the 17 planned workshops have been conducted showing citrus growers how to identify symptoms of the disease and collect suspicious samples.

Prevention methods such as avoiding planting myrtle or Swinglea glutinosa - which attracts Diaphorina citri - and not bringing in buds and seeds from other countries were also highlighted.

The key purpose of the project is to inform citrus producers about the role they can play to help keep Colombia HLB-free.

Related stories: Opinion: how parasitoids can fight HLB-spreading insects

Photo: ICA

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