New project to fight citrus greening in South America headed by Chile - FreshFruitPortal.com

New project to fight citrus greening in South America headed by Chile

A new project that represents the coming together of various countries in South America is developing methods to combat citrus greening, or HLB.

The overseeing body, the Cooperative Program for the Development of Agriculture in the South - or Procisur - recently approved the initiative.

The Chilean Ministry of Agriculture alongside the Chilean Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) will spearhead the project.

While citrus greening isn't present in Chile itself, its project looks to combine forces with regional agricultural organizations to develop prevention methods. As the disease has devasted production in other parts of the world, the project sees its work as critical.

Because it includes both public and private entities, its data can be used by a wide array of actors in the citrus industry.

Members of Procisur will benefit from its efforts. Participating organizations include the official agricultural development institutes of Argentina (INTA), Paraguay (IPTA), Uruguay (INIA), Chile (INIA) and Brazil.

Goals of the project

Chile's project seeks to "develop and promote innovative tools for the prevention and mitigation of HLB", according to a press release.

Entomologist Natalia Olivares of INIA clarified that Chile does not currently have the pest which transmits the disease. Nor does it have the disease itself. However, the team "will learn about how to manage it and recognize it through working with countries in the alliance that do have it".

By "contributing to the construction of models" it hopes to better understand how the devastating disease spreads.

"We are acting to solve phytosanitary problems of common interest to Procisur member countries and strengthen pest management capacities in South America," said Olivares.

The project added that its goal is to create a database of sorts for the modeling of HLB. It added that "the idea is to generate certain criteria for pest detection models".

First, one of the primary steps will include creating technology to diagnosis the disease on a molecular level. Then, it will attempt to eradicate infected trees.

The INIA pointed to losses in Mexico, the U.S. and Brazil as the motivating force behind its work. It cited the dramatic losses with "up to 40% of production in the past five years" being impacted.

Photo: INIA