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Ministry issues cassava virus warning

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
The warning comes as the virus is destroying crops in Sri Lanka and India. KT/Seng Siphan

The Ministry of Agriculture has alerted cassava farmers, traders, and importers about a new virus attacking cassava, instructing local authorities to work together with the industry to stem its spread.

In a statement last week, the ministry said the virus is causing havoc on the cassava sectors of in Sri Lanka and India.

To prevent the virus from spreading in Cambodia, the ministry asked the industry to work closely with ministry officials to check their plantations and ensure sanitary conditions.

The ministry warned that if the virus were to spread and result in mass contamination of what is also known as the cassava mosaic disease, it could cut exports by up to 80 per cent.

“The spread of the disease, if not managed effectively, would cause significant impact to cassava production and cassava exports,” the statement said.

Hean Vanhan, director-general of the general directorate of agriculture, said the virus has been found in the northern and eastern parts of the Cambodia, but on a small scale.

“After we found the virus in Rattankkiri and Tboung Khmum provinces, the ministry issued the statement about the virus to stop its spread,” he said.

Mr Vanhan said the mosaic disease could spread in Cambodia due to insufficient phyto-sanitary border points where cassava is imported.

Hun Lyhoeun, director of the Battambang province-based Drycropkh Cambodia, welcomed the actions of ministry, but criticised some local agriculture officials.

“I was happy to hear of actions from the ministry to alert farmers about the disease, but the local agriculture officials have not been visiting and educating cassava farmers like the ministry asked,” Mr Lyheoun, who has cassava planted on 25 hectares.

According to figures from the ministry, a total of 13.2 million tonnes of cassava were produced in 2016, with 58 per cent being exported overseas.

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