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Thailand offers solution to local cassava virus

Sum Manet / Khmer Times Share:
A close-up of a cassava plant taken in the Cambodian countryside. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodia is considering using a newly developed Thai seed to fight an outbreak of the mosaic virus in Cassava plantations in the country’s east.

The development of a cassava seed immune to the destructive virus, dubbed KU 50, was announced yesterday by a delegation from Thai Tapioca Development Institute, an agriculture research centre in Thailand, during a visit to the Cambodian General Department of Agriculture in Phnom Penh.

The Thai delegation was in the country to discuss the mosaic virus outbreak and how Thailand can be of assistance in fighting it off.

In a meeting with Hean Vanhan’s, the director of the General Department of Agriculture, the Thai agriculture experts proposed that Cambodia starts planting KU 50, which, they claim, cannot be affected by the virus.

Mr Vanhan told Khmer Times yesterday they are now considering whether or not to start planting KU 50 in the Kingdom. He said Thailand has also offered to send agriculture consultants to help destroy the virus.

“The Thai Tapioca Development Institute has a long history and a great reputation and we are glad to be working with them.

“The most important thing is that they offer to send us consultants to provide technical assistance in eradicating the virus.”

Mr Vanhan stressed that destroying the virus will not be possible without support and cooperation from all stakeholders in the industry.

“If we decide to start plating the new seed, we will have to ask our farmers to stop using the seeds they are currently planting. We know this is a sensitive issue, but it needs to be done,” Mr Vanhan said.

“We will require the full cooperation of farmers and companies to put an end to this situation. We cannot do anything if they don’t cooperate.”

Mr Vanhan explained that they are considering clearing contaminated plantations so that they can be replanted with KU 50. “If this happen, we will try to provide financial assistance to farmers so that they can buy new seeds,” he said.

“We will help them not to lose their production or their buyers abroad.”

According to Mr Vanhan, it is important to clear contaminated land, as a single infected cassava plant can quickly contaminate the rest of the plantation.

In September, the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture issued a statement alerting cassava farmers, traders, and importers about an outbreak of the cassava-infecting virus. The first incidence of the disease occurred in Ratanakkiri province. From there, it has spread to 6 provinces in the country’s east.

Last week, it was reported by the National News Bureau of Thailand that the Thai government was considering a ban on imports of Cambodian cassava to avoid any possibility of contaminating crops in the country.

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