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Efforts To Mitigate, Contain And Prevent Citrus Greening In Belize And The Tri-National Plan

Author

Listed:
  • Williams, Stephen C.K.
  • Majil, V. Manzanero
  • Gutierrez, F.
  • Blanco, F.
  • El-Lissy, O.A.
  • Anderson, H.N.

Abstract

Belize was the first country in Central America to report the presence of HLB within its borders. HLB is a devastating disease of citrus. During annual surveys for exotic diseases, samples of the HLB vector, the Asian citrus psyllid, were collected from trees with HLB-like leaf symptoms. In 2009, of the 67 psyllid samples collected from around Belize, nine, from sites distributed throughout the country, were found to be positive for HLB. When HLB was found in Belize, OIRSA (International Regional Organization for Agricultural Health) declared a regional emergency, and so other countries in Central America initiated surveys for the disease in their territories. In Belize, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and the Ministry of Agriculture enacted legislation to declare HLB a notifiable disease; establish a national HLB Task Force; restrict the movement of nursery plants; and require that, from February 1, 2010, all citrus nurseries be covered with an insect-proof screened structure. In November 2010, BAHA followed up on this legislation by destroying plants in nurseries that were illegal (i.e., those not covered in the required screened structures). Several citrus plants producers are now establishing screened nurseries certified under the National Citrus Nursery Certification Programme. After the establishment of an HLB-diagnostic laboratory, a delimiting survey for the disease was conducted between May and June 2009. This survey found a total of 270 HLB positive trees, mainly in back-yards, distributed throughout Belize. During this time, the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) launched a public awareness campaign promoting use of the internationally recognized three-pronged approach [(i) reduce inoculum levels, (ii) control the vector, and (iii) use disease-free plants] to prevent HLB from spreading and to reduce its impact on citrus production. In January 2010, the HLB Taskforce submitted a plan for HLB control (with focus on the three-pronged approach) to the Ministry of Agriculture for approval. To-date, the government has yet to put the required mechanism in place for funding. Despite these constraints, support from international organizations has been invaluable in providing essential technical support; networking opportunities for the development of an HLB control framework for Belize; and financing for on-the-ground activities such as infected tree removal in backyards, HLB diagnosis, some vector control, public awareness and nursery screening. Additionally, most of the resources of the Citrus Research & Education Institute (of CGA) have been dedicated to activities dealing with HLB. Citrus production in Belize is a significant foreign exchange earner for the country and the threat from HLB must be mitigated to ensure continued development of the industry. A major challenge of dealing with HLB is the way it affects trees over time and the current lack of a cure. With this comes the challenge for growers to accept the serious nature of the disease and to bring about the required changes, on an industry-wide scale, in their citriculture practices if its spread is to be effectively controlled. The response to HLB be must be standardized. It requires a legal framework to ensure funding, education for growers, and enforcement of regulations.

Suggested Citation

  • Williams, Stephen C.K. & Majil, V. Manzanero & Gutierrez, F. & Blanco, F. & El-Lissy, O.A. & Anderson, H.N., 2010. "Efforts To Mitigate, Contain And Prevent Citrus Greening In Belize And The Tri-National Plan," 46th Annual Meeting, July 11-17, 2010, Boca Chica, Dominican Republic 253843, Caribbean Food Crops Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:cfcs10:253843
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