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in terms of technology generation and capacity
building of our extension and research officials,"
As a result of the technical input provided
by I&I NSW, improvements have been made to
citrus management, with the project identifying
pests and diseases that are affecting crops such
"We are also taking steps to improve our
citrus nursery practices and tree production
techniques," Mr Dorjee says.
RECENT AUSTRALIAN VISIT
A group of senior citrus industry personnel
from Bhutan recently toured Australian citrus
industry operations on a three-state visit to help
direct improvements in their own industry.
In Mildura they visited the Murray Valley
Citrus Board, Citrus Australia Ltd, Auscitrus,
the Mildura Co-operative Fruit Company and
Dareton Agricultural Research and Advisory
Station, along with local citrus producers,
including an organic producer.
In the Sydney Basin they visited the Elizabeth
Macarthur Agricultural Institute, the University
of Western Sydney, Sydney Markets and a
wholesale citrus nursery. While in Queensland
the visitors were hosted by owners of a number
of orchards, nurseries and packing sheds in the
Mr Dorjee says the group was very interested
to see how Australian citrus growers prune their
trees because it is one of the main ways they
are improving production in Bhutan.
"Traditionally seedling trees are used and
growers don't prune their trees at all, so the
Australian approach is very different," he says.
Members of the Bhutanese group benefited
from seeing the operations of Auscitrus---the
industry organisation that supplies high-health-
status budwood and seeds to the Australian
industry---including at Eyles Citrus nursery at
"As well as looking at nursery practices we
tried to reinforce how important a scheme
like Auscitrus is to the citrus industry in any
country," says owner Gary Eyles. "If you are not
propagating from clean, true-to-type material
then you are starting with a huge disadvantage."
The Bhutanese group could see the potential
for introducing this approach. Mr Dorjee says
Bhutan wants to introduce the use of clean-
grafted citrus trees because they can fruit in
3--4 years. "This is significantly earlier than the
seedling trees currently used, which take, on
average, 7--8 years to fruit, and sometimes up to
A selection of citrus rootstock has been
introduced as seed into Bhutan to provide a
source of rootstock material for the Bhutanese
citrus industry. These rootstocks are being
further trialled in Bhutan to assess their
performance under the local mandarin variety
on a range of soil types.
EXOTIC DISEASE THREATS
An important aspect of the ACIAR project
has been research on exotic diseases such
as HLB, which is a key threat to Australia's
Through the project, Australian scientists
completed a pest and disease survey, collected
psyllids (the insect vector of HLB) and diseased
citrus samples. As a result, they identified the
agent responsible for the devastating powdery
mildew disease that causes mandarin tree
dieback and crop loss in Bhutan. Spray trials
are assessing the use of sulfur and horticultural
mineral oils for the control of powdery mildew
in citrus orchards.
"One of the benefits of the project to Australia
has been the experience of learning firsthand
about these exotic pests and diseases, and the
impact they have on commercial citrus orchards,"
says Graeme Sanderson, an I&I NSW officer who
has visited Bhutan several times to pass on his
knowledge of the Australian citrus industry.
"These diseases, already present in
neighbouring countries like Papua New Guinea
and East Timor, are a severe biosecurity risk to
To assist in the transfer of new knowledge to
Bhutanese extension officers and farmers, a simple
production guide for mandarin orchards has
been developed. It provides guidance on canopy
management, nutrition, irrigation, pest and
disease management, and harvesting practices.
A similar guide is being produced for Australian
mandarin growers as part of the project. n
PROJECT: HORT/2005/142 Improving
mandarin production in Bhutan and Australia
through the implementation of on-farm best
CONTACT: Sandra Hardy,
Les Baxter (ACIAR), email@example.com
(From left) Mr Dorjee, national citrus coordinator with the Bhutan Department of Agriculture, Sandra
Hardy, I&I NSW, and Eyles Citrus nursery owner Gary Eyles inspect a citrus tree ready for dispatch.
Paul Holford, a pathologist from the University of Western Sydney,
demonstrates the use of the iodine-starch test to Bhutanese district
extension officers on a citrus pest and disease study trip to Bhutan in
2009. The iodine-starch test can be a useful field test for helping to
select suspect HLB leaves for further laboratory testing.
PHOTO: KEVIN CHAMBERLAIN
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