Ministry Calls For Stricter Controls To Stop Cassava Virus

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The Ministry of Agriculture is calling for stricter border controls after 12 provinces recently reported cases of the mosaic virus in cassava plantations, according to a ministry official.

A farmer collects cassava in Ratanakkiri province, in the Norteast. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The cassava mosaic virus has been spreading around the country through the work of farmers but originates from imports, said Khan Samban, director of agro-industry at the Ministry of Agriculture.

“The ministry is requesting stricter controls to stem the outbreak. We also need to educate farmers on recognising crops affected by this virus,” Mr Samban said.

The Ministry of Agriculture is urging the ministries of Interior and Economy and Finance to work together to stop infected cassava seeds from entering the country, he said, adding that sanitary and phytosanitary certificates must be demanded at customs.

The mosaic virus can cause the loss of up to 80 percent of production, Mr Samban said, adding, however, that the virus is only present in a few hectares in each province.

The 12 provinces in which the virus has been found are Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Kratie, Tboung Khmum, Pursat, Battambang, Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Kampong Cham, and Stung Treng.

On a Facebook post this week, Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon also called for stricter controls and checks on sanitary and phytosanitary requirements. He asked importers to buy cassava from trusted sources and asked farmers to inform officials of any case involving the virus.

Soy Sona, director of the agriculture department of Stung Treng, said farmers in the province are being trained on the technical aspects of planting cassava.

Stung Treng, a province where cassava is planted on at least 16,000 hectares, reported cases of the mosaic virus in Konmom district, Mr Sona said.

“We have been educating our farmers since cases of the virus were reported in the province. We aim to train them on how to recognise infected cassava,” Mr Sona said.

“We hope these training sessions can help stop the spread of the virus,” Mr Sona said.

According to him, most of the cassava grown in the province is exported to Vietnam.

Cassava is grown in about 400,000 hectares across the country.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.