The vector of Huanglongbing (HLB) or Asian greening disease, the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri, has been detected as far south in Africa as Tanzania and south-eastern Kenya, while the disease has already manifested itself in Ethiopia as well as Mauritius and Réunion.
We are fairly worried about the presence of the insect in Tanzania and Kenya. Last year we reviewed our initiatives against the disease. One of the cornerstones of the fight against Asian greening disease is planting disease-free plant material, says Dr Paul Fourie of Citrus Research International (CRI). For this reason we are busy with a cost-benefit analysis for South African nurseries to make recommendations on how to change over to insect-secure structures.
South African nurseries are not yet insect-secure, but the experience of the Florida citrus industry has led the industries in California and Brazil to start the fight against the disease at propagation level.