Management of Citrus Greening Disease continueS

A rapid response mechanism implemented by the Division of Agriculture to respond to the Citrus Greening Disease in Dominica continues to be in effect.

The Integrated Pest Management mechanism involves the elimination of infested trees and the release of natural enemies to manage the Asian citrus psyllid, the vector affecting the citrus plants.

The Citrus Greening Disease which is one of the world’s leading causes of death of citrus plants was first identified in Dominica in May 2012.

Ryan Anselm of the Plant Quarantine Unit of the Division of Agriculture in an interview with the Government Information Service (GIS) on Tuesday said it’s critical that the management system remains in place to control the spread of the vector.

“In Dominica, we have put programs in place to cushion the effect of this disease. A vector called the Asian citrus psyllid is responsible for transmitting this disease. The integrated pest management program is geared at managing that vector which has been found in most communities across Dominica. We are hopeful that our program which involves the release of parasitoids will be effective and will control the vector” noted Anselm.

He said the Division of Agriculture has also put into effect a strict quarantine program to curtail the movement of infested citrus material.

“The other program that we have is quarantine where we try to prevent the movement of infested material. The Government of Dominica moved quickly in passing a citrus order where we could limit the movement of citrus planting material. The Division of Agriculture has closed down all private nurseries and the order passed by the Attorney General Office has assisted us in our efforts to limit the movement of citrus material” added Anselm.

The Plant Quarantine official said the Division of Agriculture is reporting successful eradication of the Citrus Greening disease in communities of Pointe Mitchel and Wesley.

“We have done eradication programs in Pointe Mitchel where we have eliminated ninety-five percent of infested trees and the eradication program is ongoing in Wesley. At the moment we have a team in Wesley trying to eradicate the infested trees. The program is really to eliminate all infested trees and to control the vector that transmits the disease. We can say that the program is ongoing and sometime next year we will seek to evaluate its success” explained Anselm.

Affected Citrus farmers have been encouraged to work closely with the Division of Agriculture and to purchase citrus plants only from the Citrus Certification Program at the Botanical Gardens.

“The Citrus Certification Program is the only certified citrus nursery that can provide true to type clean planting material to the farmers. We urge farmers to refrain from purchasing planting material from private nurseries and to purchase from the Botanical Gardens where we can certify that you have disease free planting material. We are also telling farmers, that they should not move planting materials from one area from another since this is one way in which the disease can be spread” cautioned Anselm.

Farmers have also been advised to inspect their citrus trees on a monthly basis for the Asian Citrus psyllid. The Division of Agriculture cautions that if farmers suspect the presence on the disease to immediately contact the Division of Agriculture.