Yellow Dragon Disease enters Trinidad and Tobago's citrus farmsStaff Writer | June 13, 2017
A citrus disease that has killed and destroyed more than 100 million trees worldwide and cost growers billions of dollars has been detected in Trinidad and Tobago.
Bacterial disease The Asian citrus psyllid
It is carried by the Asian citrus psyllid and attacks a tree’s vascular system, producing bitter fruit and eventually killing the tree. Sap-sucking pysllids that feed on an infected tree become carriers of the disease.
Huanglongbing has been identified in more than 40 countries including Brazil, Florida’s main rival in the global orange juice business. It was so damaging to Florida’s citrus crops that in 2003, the US classified the bacteria that caused it as a bioterror tool.
In the Caribbean, Jamaica and Belize have been severely affected by the disease. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) projects were implemented in both countries in 2011- 2013 and have had some success in salvaging trees and increasing yields.
Citrus farmers who cannot get plants to buy want to know if this is the reason why The Ministry of Agriculture has stopped the sales of citrus plants to farmers at its three nurseries at Marper Farms, Plum Road, Manzanilla; La Reunion Plant Propagation Station, Carapo; and the St Augustine Nursery, Farm Road, St Joseph from the beginning of the month.
President of the Cooperative Citrus Growers Association (CCGA) of T&T Felix Clarke said Yellow Dragon Disease can wipe out T&T’s citrus industry in a short period of time if measures are not put in place to manage the disease. ■