KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya: Citrus farmers in this upland town on Saturday expressed alarm over a deadly disease which has affected 2,000 hectares and may threaten more plantations.
Farmers said that if the fruit disease called “huang long bin” is not contained the soonest possible time, it would affect thousands of hectares of citrus plantation not only in this town but in the province.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) said there has been attempts to contain the said viral disease “but to no avail”.
Municipal agriculturist Eriño Basadre Jr. confirmed the infestation, saying around 500 hectares of citrus plantation may still be saved from the diseases.
“The province could only expect this year’s citrus production from only around 500 hectares. It used to be thousands of hectares of citrus plantations,” Basadre said.
Kasibu, which is the center of citrus production in Nueva Vizcaya, is infested by what experts call a “citrus greening disease”.
DA experts said the disease is capable of destroying harvestable citrus fruits by around 50 percent, “thus its spread could potentially lead to the eventual death of the citrus industry in the province, if nothing is done to solve the situation”.
“Affected citrus plants experience the sudden yellowing of their leaves which results in the poor quality of its fruits as well as low production,” Basadre explained.
Kasibu Mayor Alberto Bumolo Jr. is encouraging most citrus growers to shifting to other crops.
Bumolo said that as a result of the infestation, the cost of maintaining citrus plantations has been tremendously becoming a burden to farmers.
“Our production fell by 50 percent compared to five years ago because of this infestation. We used to harvest thousands of tons of citrus until this problem cropped up,” Bumolo said.
He said the disease surfaced five years ago and has greatly affected the newly established market abroad of their high yield and premium quality citrus produce.
Citrus farmers said they were appalled that despite intervention by fruits experts including those from the DA, the disease could no longer be contained.
As early as 2005, citrus growers have expressed their concern that financing agencies began pulling out their investments due to low citrus production as a result of the infestation.