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Scientist warn of citrus tree disease

Monday September 05 2016
pic new pest

Tanga. Scientists from Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (Mari) have called for urgent measures to contain a new disease that attacks citrus trees.

Researchers from Mari, Dr Zuberi Seguni and Dr Chris Materu, say the pest Asian Psyllid whose existence in the country was reported for the first time in 2015, is responsible for the disease that stunts trees.

The pest has been observed in Morogoro, Dar es Salaam, and Coast Region and along the Dar es Salaam –Lindi Highway and Selem and Kitope in Zanzibar.

The researchers were speaking at a workshop organised recently by Mari with financial support from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) an international scientific research institute with headquarters in Nairobi,

Dr Seguni said the disease was until recently restricted to India, South East Asia, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and Madagascar. “The disease has recently caused severe losses in the US and some South American countries like Brazil,” he pointed out.

The disease according to Dr Seguni is not widespread in Tanzania and does not appear to be infecting citrus trees in Tanga Region. He said that the most probable reason for the disease not prominently featuring in Tanga could be the result of the limited number of seedlings sourced from Morogoro.

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Explaining further, Dr Materu said the main concern is the fact that the disease easily spreads in hot and humid climates.

The stakeholders agreed that an action plan should centre around creating awareness and conducting a countrywide survey to establish the presence of the disease for efficient control.

Opening the workshop Tanga Regional Administrative Secretary Zena Saidi, said that the regional government would support experts and orange farmers in combating the disease.

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