Pakistan stands as the 13th-largest citrus producer globally, consistently yielding 2 to 2.4 million tons annually from approximately 200,000 hectares over the past decade. Pakistan’s citrus production has increased marginally between 2018 and 2022 from 2.35 million tons to 2.55 million tons but the cultivated area has actually declined by nearly 20 percent from 0.45 million acres to 0.35 million acres during the same time.
However, Pakistan is not immune to the disease that is vexing orchards globally, leaving a trail of withered trees in its wake. This disease, known as citrus sudden death (CSD), has baffled scientists and growers alike across the globe. Some say it caused due to citrus sudden death-associated virus (CSDaV) which may have spread through aphids.
Others blame a bacterium candidatus liberibacter citri or a certain fungus as a reason while it is also possible that environmental stress factors such as flooding and nutrient deficiency play a more important role in its occurrence and transmission. The disease, first identified in Brazil in the early 2000s, has since spread to other major citrus-growing regions, including Argentina, Paraguay, Australia, Pakistan and South Africa.
This year, farmers have experienced a more significant outbreak of this disease in Toba Tek Singh, which is the major production region after Sargodha.