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Venezuela - HLB destroys citrus groves

Rafael Cabrera, the president of the Yaracuy Fruit Growers Association, stated in an interview that only 5% of the 35,000 hectares planted with citrus in Venezuela continued to exist.

As Cabrera explained, the massive reduction in citrus cultivation was due to the Huanglongbing disease, also known as HLB or citrus greening. The bacterium, which is transmitted by the Diaphorina citrivector insect, causes the deformation and death of the trees, in addition to the loss of production.

The plantations that haven’t been affected, he said, are in colder areas, such as Nirgua and towards the Tendida area, between Merida, Tachira, and Zulia.

He insisted that they must control the vector insect to stop the contagion. “There was a struggle to enact an administrative ruling that would become the legal framework on which to act, but no measures were implemented.”

The producers association is vertically integrated with the multi-fruit agribusiness. The latter has facilities to process up to 50 million kilos of fruit annually. However, this year they processed less than 4 million kilos. “The trend is that these industries are going to disappear and they have to migrate to another type of process to maintain themselves over time,” he said.

“One can see a lot of fruits in the market because the industries no longer have the capacity to process these fruits so they are taken to the fresh market, but there is no abundance of fruit,” he stressed.

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