IICA supports capacity building of Technicians in Saint Lucia for control of the Citrus Greening Disease

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Castries, Santa Lucía, December 18, 2019 (IICA). Technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives in Saint Lucia were trained in shoot tip grafting procedures for the propagation of clean citrus planting material.

In vitro shoot tip grafting (STG) is a miniature grafting technique, which involves grafting a minute shoot tip (0.1 mm to 0.3 mm) on two weeks old seedling rootstock performed under aseptic conditions. It produces true to type, non juvenile disease free plants.

“The five days training complements a previous training on identification and remedial actions in the nursery and on the farm, by closing the loop on propagating clean planting material to replenish the standing stock of citrus trees affected by HLB.” said Brent Theophile, IICA National Specialist in Saint Lucia.

HLB poses a threat to the EC $ 5.12 million (USD 1.89 million; 2018) local industry and affects important livelihoods and cross-sectoral and agro-tourism linkages.

Since its official confirmation in 2016, the disease has spread to major citrus-growing regions of Saint Lucia.

“Actions like this one are of strategic importance to build long-term capacity for development of local industries, developing skills for adoption of good practices; building on the successes of our colleagues in Jamaica in this area for propagating disease-free planting material”.

The training specifically drew on the experiences of Jamaica for the control of HLB. In so doing, it added weight to the recommended management protocols, as well as relevance given that they were readily applicable to Saint Lucia as another developing state with similar resource and human capacities.

“This training supports the adoption of a new management regime for citrus, but the real value of the training will be seen in your ability to hone and refine your training and to apply it to secure the species of commercial and intrinsic value to Saint Lucia, establishing clean stock from upon which your propagation program will be based”, said Kimone Richards, Post Entry Quarantine Officer with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries in Jamaica.

The training program is part of a joint support action to build capacities for the management of Citrus Greening Disease (Huanglongbing/HLB) between the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Agriculture in Saint Lucia.

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