Oct. 18, 2018
By Leonardo Gottems, reporter for AgroPages
An investment of more than six million pesos will allow the INTA Bella Vista (Corrientes / Argentima) to begin the massive breeding of Tamarixia radiata, a beneficial wasp that decreases the populations of Diaphorina citri - a vector that transmits the HLB (Huanglongbing). The investment comes from the Fondagro trust, managed by the Investment and Foreign Trade Bank (BICE).
The use of this wasp will allow the control of the plague without applying chemical products in Argentina, and consolidate the production of lemons, oranges and tangerines in the international market. "On this occasion, we cooperated with the Ministry of Agribusiness and INTA in this key project for the biological control of a disease that affects citrus," said Federico Cafasso, head of BICE trusts.
"The breeding of these natural enemies will allow us to control the crop's health with the tamarixia. The use of chemical products is avoided." The expectation is for the production of 500,000 wasps per year.
In Argentina, the rules to prevent the advance of HLB in commercial citrus plantations are clear and precise. Besides only growing plants from certified nurseries, the control of the leafhopper can be performed with chemical products. However, the prevention programs do not foresee any measures to reduce the populations of Diaphorina citri.
In this sense, Juan Sablich, director of the INTA Regional Center in Corrientes, warned about the entry of the disease into the country. "There are records about the presence of HLB in some places. These are very specific cases and, as the disease is not yet widespread, it gives us time to prepare ourselves for a probable scenario of citrus culture with HLB, in which we must manage the activity with greater precision," he said.
"The key is the early detection of the leafhopper, or the disease, to prevent its dispersion," said Sablich. "This investment, for the breeding and release of tamarixia, will allow us to make the first qualitative leap, and we can start with the scaling of the project. For us, it is very important that they have approved this proposal, because it gives us the opportunity to concretize and project the development of tools focused on prevention," he said.