Citrus producers from the municipalities of Santo Tomas and Palmar de Varela in the department of Atlantico have had to suspend the production on 1,270 hectares due to the yellow dragon plague and have reported losses of about 36 millions of dollars a day.
This tropical disease of bacterial nature causes alterations in the size, shape, and flavor of the fruit.
Given the situation, and taking into account the high impact of the disease on the sustainability of the crops, the mayors of Santo Tomas and Palmar de Varela have stated that a state of emergency and agricultural calamity must be declared.
According to the municipal leaders, the alternatives that the ICA has proposed to them do not respond to the needs of the harvesters. One of the proposed options has been to replace the plantations with new trees, and the other one is to coexist with the vector that produces the disease.
According to the regional director of the ICA, Ovidio Rondon, last year 19,900 infected plants were eradicated in 19 municipalities, 65% of which gave positive results for the disease.
There are citrus plantations in 16 of the 22 municipalities of the Atlantico. The secretary of Economic Development, Anatolio Sanchez, said that they had raised the alarms and asked the National Government to help them find a formula to counteract the disease. "We are working with all the entities to find solutions for the agricultural sector, especially looking to give small producers access to financing so that they can use these resources to implement good agricultural practices."