Seed imports banned as fungal disease hits Thai rubber trees

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Seed imports banned as fungal disease hits Thai rubber trees

A worker tapping a tree in Thailan. The outbreak of a fungal infection of Thai trees has to a ban of of rubber seeds, seedlings and saplings into Myanmar. Photo – EPA

The outbreak of a fungal disease that weakens rubbers trees in has led to the halt of imports of rubber seeds, seedlings, and saplings into Myanmar, local authorities announce.

Following the outbreak of the Pestalotiopsis sub species fungal infection of trees, rubber seeds, seedlings, and saplings will not be allowed through local airports and border gates, the Crop Protecting Unit of the Department of said.

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The Pestalotiopsis fungal disease has spread in some rubber plantations in Thailand, so precautionary measures have to be taken to protect Myanmar’s . Additionally, imports of rubber seeds, seedlings, and saplings from other countries will also be halted, said U Win Zaw, head of the Myeik District Agriculture Department.

The ban, which affects not only Thanintharyi Region, but the whole country, remains in effect indefinitely.

“The current announcement will be effective until the next one is issued. All people need to abide by it,” said U Win Zaw.

The outbreak of the fungus does not affect the and imports of raw rubber and rubber latex are still allowed without restriction as before, he said.

A rubber tree that has been invaded by the pestalotiopsis fungus will lose its leaves, produce less latex of poorer quality, and eventually.

“The rubber has been poor for a long time and there are only a few growers these days. Sellers are not interested in it so the ban has little impact,” said a Myeik resident and rubber plantation owner U Myo Zaw Min. He said rubber price is low in Myeik and some plantation owners have stopped extraction of latex because they can’t even cover production costs.

According to some rubber growers, the fungus has also spread in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Lanka although this has not been confirmed. – Translated

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