Citrus canker – a threat to orange production in Pakistan

Symptoms of citrus canker ©  Timothy Schubert, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood
Symptoms of citrus canker © Timothy Schubert, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood

Last week, key players in Pakistan’s orange production came together for the first Orange Exporters Awards, organised by the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Association and the Department of Plant Protection. During this meeting, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, announced that orange farms in the Sargodha region of Punjab are under threat from diseases, especially citrus canker. Mr Sikandar Bosan pledged financial reward for any farm owners that encourage new research to overcome the region’s citrus canker problem. 

Orange farms in the Sargodha region of Punjab account for over 90% of the national production of oranges in Pakistan. However, these farms are losing out on income as a result of diseases such as citrus canker, which causes characteristic lesions surrounded by yellow discolouration on leaves, stems and fruit. Early abscission of fruits and defoliation of the trees can also be caused by this disease. Any fruit that do develop but that are infected with citrus canker are safe to eat but are too unsightly to be sold, causing farmers to lose out on income.

Citrus canker is caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas citri which enters the plant through stomata in the leaves and wounds in the plant caused, for example, by the citrus leaf miner. X. citri can survive from season to season in diseased plant tissue and is spread mainly by rainwater. The disease is thought to have originated in Southeast Asia, but has since been introduced to new areas through the movement of infected citrus fruits and seedlings which harbour the bacteria. Click here to see the distribution of citrus canker around the world.

20147801351With the development of increasingly successful control measures for citrus diseases, Pakistan could increase its orange exports from $200 million to $1 billion. Plantwise has helped to train extension workers in Pakistan to run plant clinics, which could play a role in this by helping to identify crop problems and provide practical solutions for farmers. Any crop can be brought to the clinic for diagnosis, and the clinics are run frequently in locations convenient for farmers to access, such as in town centres and at markets.

To find out more about citrus canker and how it can be managed, please read the Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers on Citrus Canker, which has been written by Fayyaz Ahmed, from the Directorate General Agriculture Extension & Adaptive Research in Pakistan.

Sources:
Citrus production: Sargodha’s orange farms endangered by diseases in absence of research
Plantwise technical factsheet: citrus canker (Xanthomonas citri)

2 thoughts on “Citrus canker – a threat to orange production in Pakistan

  1. shahlasalah April 16, 2015 / 12:05 pm

    Thanks Claire, very informative post, but the well trained field staff of CABI’s Plant-wise could find-out the actual causes of the diseases and damages of the crop, either the soil condition is not good or weather pattern is not favorable for crop, incase both are in balance then might be there is some scientific reason, like what kind of fertilizer,chemicals [pesticides] they are applying, also the irrigation system is according to the temperature as this specific region had been recorded during the season of citrus crop….mean the timeline of irrigation system should be fixed by scientist as per the crop stages vs temperature. sometime due to irregularities of irrigation, farmers starts applying water while the day temperature is at high level, which severely affected the crop. May be am not right, but sometimes it happened as the global climate has started getting changes, and as per this condition anything could be happened.

    also scientist could do one thing that shift atleast ten plants from the same field where diseases have been seen…to some other field and change the methodology and applications of inputs. Hope they will get the way to find-out the general reason of the attacks. research is only way to fill the requirement if Pak-scientist take it serious. and CABI’s Pak staff can help them… specially Mr. Yasir Saleem Khan who has enough knowledge about crop pattern and disease attack. because i learned many thing from him being and agrarian which helped me to grow more crops.

    All the best and thank you once again for this post Claire, everyday am getting much knowledge from your blogs. thanks Shahla

    Email: shahla80kk@gmail.com Name: Shahla Salah http://www.Linkedin.com/shahlasalah

  2. Claire Curry April 16, 2015 / 12:42 pm

    Dear Shahla,
    Thank you very much for the information you have provided above and for your thoughts on research that could help the farmers in Pakistan to produce higher yields. This is all useful stuff!
    Kind regards,
    Claire

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