FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

FAO organizes a workshop on citrus diseases and methods of diagnosis and prevention in Oman

Muscat, May 17, 2023 - The Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the Sultanate of Oman, with the General Directorate of Agricultural and Animal Research represented by the Agricultural Research Department in North Al Batinah Governorate, organized a workshop on "The main Citrus Diseases and Diagnosis and Prevention Methods" in cooperation with CIHEAM Bari Institute, Italy within the framework of the“ Development, Production and Multiplication of Certified Citrus Propagation Materials” projectwith the participation of researchers and specialists in plant protection and agricultural quarantine.

The workshop discussed improving the efficiency of researchers, specialists, and technicians working in the project, which aims to produce disease-free seedlings, in order to raise the productivity of Oman’s citrus crops. Citrus is considered one of the most important crops of the Sultanate, which is exposed to diseases caused by bacteria and viruses transmitted to them by insects.

The visiting experts carried out workshops in the field and laboratories to train the researchers and technicians on how to protect citrus trees, and to detect citrus diseases using several techniques, such as direct tissue blot immunoassay (DTBIA).  This technique can be used directly in the field to collect samples through plant sap without the need to collect plant samples to be analyzed at the laboratories. Participants were also trained on the use of the "ELISA" method to detect citrus pathogens, sample preparation, also reading and analyzing the results.

During the workshop, one of the most important modern techniques for detecting plant diseases was discussed, which is the use of quantitative real-time PCR (RT-PCR) to accurately detect the presence of plant pathogens in the quarantines samples coming from different countries or samples collected from citrus fields.

Moreover, to raise citrus production efficiency and through the project and citrus health program, five double greenhouses were established with an area of 3,200 square meters at the Agricultural Research Station in Sohar, with the aim of protecting the citrus mother trees from pests and disease. In addition, approximately 240 citrus trees will be planted in greenhouses designated for preserving rootstock mothers, and 1280 trees will be planted in greenhouses designated for preserving citrus species and varieties, which will be used as mothers for seedlings propagation. These citrus species will include lemon varieties (Omani lemon, Tahiti lemon, Eureka lemonade, and lemonade), orange varieties (Valencia, Hameln, Abu Surra, Baladi, Pineapple, Tangelo, Ruby Red, and Sugar), and tangerines of all kinds.

Lemon is considered a major commercial crop in Oman and is classified as the fourth fruit crop in terms of economic importance after dates, bananas and mangoes. North Al Batinah Governorate is the largest producer of lemons with a rate of more than 29% of the total area cultivated with Omani lemon crop in the Sultanate.