Since 2004, CREI has been surveying the country at least once a year and often two times a year for the presence of exotic diseases. It is because of this programme that HLB-greening was found to be present in Belize. To any who have doubted the importance of such programmes in the past, the importance must now be clear! Otherwise this citrus industry would still be ignorant of the presence of HLB in the industry, the disease would be spreading un-monitored and no activities would have been implemented to reduce the disease's potential impact on citrus production - with possible devastating consequences, in the years to come.
The objective of this regular exotic disease survey is to search for any disease that is not currently in Belize and focuses on diseases that are known to be in the region. Such diseases currently include citrus leprosis virus, (that is present throughout Central America except Belize - thanks to our citrus nursery certification programme), citrus canker (in Florida and Brazil) and citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC). CVC is present is several countries in South America including Brazil.
These surveys are conducted on a continuous basis and are crucial to the protection of the citrus industry from the establishment of exotic (foreign) diseases in Belize. To complete this work CREI collobarates with a number of local and international organizations incuding: the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the International Regional Organization for Animal and Plant Health (OIRSA). It is as a result of these surveys that we found HLB in Belize but we have also confirmed that so far the diseases canker, leprosis, and citrus variegated chlorosis are not in Belize. Please help keep it that way, do not bring plant material into Belize without the required permit and report any leaves or fruit with symptoms to BAHA or CREI staff. We know Belizean citrus growers will agree that we all have enough to deal with, with HLB being in the country, without the introduction of yet more diseases.