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07. December 2019

MYANMAR: Seed imports banned as fungal disease hits Thai rubber trees

The outbreak of a fungal disease that weakens rubbers trees in Thailand has led to the halt of imports of rubber seeds, seedlings, and saplings into Myanmar, local authorities in Yangon announced. Following the outbreak of the Pestalotiopsis sub species fungal infection of Thai rubber trees, rubber seeds, seedlings, and saplings will not be allowed through local airports and border gates, the Crop Protecting Unit of Myanmar’ s Department of Agriculture said.

The Pestalotiopsis fungal disease has spread in some rubber plantations in Thailand, so precautionary measures have to be taken to protect Myanmar’s rubber trees. 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 rubber market 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 and produce less latex of poorer quality eventually. According to some rubber growers, the fungus has also spread in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka although this has not been confirmed.

Source: Daily “The Myanmar Times”, Yangon; 2 Dec 2019
(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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