"Sharing what we have done": the project sustainable control of the HLB vector in family agriculture has been successfully completed

Published at: 19 March 2024

The FONTAGRO Project "Sustainable Control of the HLB Vector Insect in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia" successfully concluded with a closing workshop at INTA EEA Bella Vista, Argentina.

The Fontagro Project "Sustainable Control of the HLB Vector Insect in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia" successfully concluded with a closing workshop held at the facilities of INTA EEA Bella Vista in Corrientes, Argentina. This project marked a milestone in the fight against Huanglongbing (HLB), a devastating disease affecting citrus in the region.

Imagen 1. Apertura taller de cierre del proyecto.

From December 12 to 14, 2023, the closing workshop of the HLB (Huanglongbing) control project in family agriculture in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Paraguay was held at the INTA EEA Bella Vista facilities in Corrientes, Argentina, with the participation of 59 researchers, extensionists and project technicians from 3 countries of the platform. Several crucial topics related to the global and regional context of the HLB disease were discussed. The results of the Fontagro project were presented, as well as the achievements of each of its components.

The project co-financed by Fontagro proposed to adapt and disseminate integrated pest management (IPM) technology in the control of the HLB vector in family agriculture (AF) starting in 2019. It was organized into four components: 1. Control of the HLB vector in a context of local adaptation of integrated management, through the installation of 17 IPM demonstration plots (DPs) in family farms; 2. Training for producer families and professionals, training of certified monitors, communication and social awareness; 3.

As with all projects co-financed by Fontagro, a platform was formed comprising an Executing Agency: National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA)/ArgenINTA Foundation (Argentina); Co-executing Agencies: Instituto Nacional de Investigación Agropecuaria (INIA) (Uruguay), Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Forestales (FaCAF) de la Universidad Nacional de Itapúa (UNI)/Fundación Universitaria de Itapúa (FundUNI) (Paraguay) and Gobierno Autónomo Municipal de Bermejo (Bolivia); and Partner Agencies: Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria (Senasa) and Federación Argentina del Citrus (Federcitrus), both from Argentina and Unión de Productores y Exportadores Frutihortícolas del Uruguay (Upefruy).

The welcome and start of the event was in charge of the Director of INTA EEA Bella Vista, Federico Caniza, the Coordinator of the National Fruit Program of INTA, Diana Marini, the coordinator of the Fontagro project, Silvana Giancola and the alternate coordinator and responsible for the IPM demonstration plots, Alcides Aguirre.

The meeting began with a panel on the situation of HLB, with a first conference: Situation and research on HLB in the world by Alberto Gochez, INTA EEA Bella Vista Research Coordinator, then the situation in Argentina was presented by Julian Jezierski, Coordinator of Senasa's National HLB Prevention Program. The panel continued with the Situation in Uruguay, presented by José Buenahora from INIA Salto, Uruguay, and the Situation in Paraguay, presented by Carlos Wlosek from FaCAF UNI, Paraguay. This panel ended with a presentation by Dori Nava, as guest of Embrapa, Clima Temperado, who shared the situation of HLB in Sao Paulo and southern Brazil.

On the subject of the Fontagro project and results, Silvana Giancola presented the goals achieved and the road traveled.

Component 1 of the project, focused on the monitoring and control of the HLB vector, Diaphorina citri, was analyzed in detail with presentations on objectives, methodologies and results in various sites in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Results such as a 62% reduction of Diaphorina citri and a 38% increase in the population of natural enemies in the IPM demonstrator plots versus conventional plots under the farmer's usual management were highlighted.

The second day was devoted to component 2. Training, awareness and communication, and component 3. which addressed the monitoring of sustainability, fruit quality and economic analysis of the IPM implemented in the demonstration plots. In this regard, significant improvements in fruit quality at harvest were observed, which allowed many demonstrator growers to better market their production or visualize this potential. It was demonstrated that IPM is not much more expensive than usual management, taking into account the environmental improvement demonstrated in the increased population of natural enemies of the pests.

Collective innovation management, which involved 735 producers and other sector stakeholders - 225 were women - who interacted both in the workshops for the participatory selection of demonstration plots at the beginning of the project and in the workshops for the return of results at each of the sites. In this sense, the technicians stated that it was possible to interact with producers and representatives of local institutions on the possibility of incorporating the practice of monitoring pests and diseases systematically in family farms and highlighted the actions of the project, which has demonstrated the importance of this practice, and in some sites there were expressions of the possibility of "sharing" the monitor. Other site referents expressed that producers consider monitoring as a costly practice for the family scale. The understanding of the care of the natural enemies of the HLB vector and other relevant pests by the producers was also highlighted, through the results achieved during project implementation.

The final day included practical experiences of biological control carried out from INIA Salto, Uruguay, and INTA Bella Vista, Argentina, followed by a visit to the breeding unit of Tamarixia radiata, a specific natural enemy of Diaphorina citri, located at EEA Bella Vista and directed by Alcides Aguirre.

Some of the legacies and achievements of the project include: raising awareness of pest and disease monitoring for decision making, the importance of using low-impact phytosanitary products with the positive effect of increasing the population of natural enemies of pests, an alert system and BioTic INTA - Fontagro HLB platform https://biotic.inta.gob. ar/ for producers in operation, a communication campaign for the prevention and management of HLB with more than 20 printed and digital pieces for dissemination by WhatsApp and social networks, more than 1000 directly trained, a guide to HLB and its vector with 4000 copies printed and in digital version http://bit.ly/3tlXc7O, and 247 certificates awarded to pest and disease monitors in 3 editions of a virtual/on-site course from the INTA PROCADIS platform.

In summary, the participants presented the results of more than four years of work, generating discussion spaces for the exchange of knowledge and experiences in the search for solutions to this problem that affects citriculture in the region and the world. The sustainability of some of the project's actions and the possibility of continuing to address the HLB-vector problem through new external financing were also discussed, taking into account the dynamics of the advance of this pathosystem in the region and the background of the present project co-financed by Fontagro.

Project news

Sustainable control of vector of HLB in Family Farming
With the support of
Fondo Coreano de Alianza para el Conocimiento en Tecnología e Innovación (KPK)