New Technologies Available to Citrus Industry
The Citrus Research and Education Institute (CREI) which is the research arm of the Citrus Growers Association has been hosting Dr. Olga Mas Camacho for the past five weeks. As part of the Food and Agriculture (FAO) Project, “Assistance to Manage Huanglongbing (HLB) in Belize”, CREI has received the equipment required to establish a Shoot Tip Grafting (STG) Laboratory. During her time with CREI Dr. Mas has met nursery plants producers and trained professionals from the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA), the University of Belize (UB) and CREI in the STG technique.
STG is the process by which plant meristem from one plant is removed and grafted on to another plant grown invitro with the objective of obtaining pathogen free clones of citrus. STG is one component of a citrus certification program that ensures that the industry has access to clean pathogen-free certified plants. This technique was developed by Dr. Luis Navarro and colleagues and Dr. Mas who has over 33 years experience in research in the area of citrus using STG was trained by Dr. Navarro. Belize's Citrus Certification Programme (BCCP) is one of the longest most successful such programme operating in the region and the STG was the final component of the BCCP. The BCCP is currently implemented by CREI in collaboration with BAHA.
Additionally, CREI and UB has collaborated to extend Dr. Mas's visit for an additional week so she could provide training to professionals from both institutions on how to produce citrus seedlings using micropropagation. With the emergence of the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease in Belize and all other major citrus growing industries worldwide, obtaining certified seeds (from a disease free seed sour plant) is becoming difficult. Industries have moved to growing seed source trees under screen which takes several years to do and alternatively to develop rootstocks in the laboratory. This technique is currently used in banana and pineapple industries.
The Citrus Industry in Belize now has the capacity and wherewithal to use the techniques of STG for obtaining pathogen free citrus clones and micropropagation to produce citrus rootstock seedlings for trial in the industry and future use once adaptability of these rootstock seedlings are evaluated.
The CGA takes this opportunity to thank the FAO for its continued support to Belize's Citrus Industry, to the Ministry of Agriculture for requesting the project from the FAO, to BAHA and the University of Belize for participating in the training and collaborating on the professional front to make the training a success. Special thanks to Dr. Mas for sharing her vast knowledge and experience and in so doing providing the industry and country of Belize with very specialized and cutting edge techniques..
Click here to read more