Thursday May 20, 2004 - THE Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) will set up adedicated working group to address the issue of Ganoderma or basal stemrot disease, which is fast becoming a major threat to oil palm cultivationand production in Malaysia.
Deputy director-general 1, Dr Mohd Basri Wahid, said MPOB would employ ateam of scientists and researchers to help formulate strategies and find asolution to cure and possibly eradicate this disease, which had plaguedthe local oil palm plantations over the past four decades.
Basri was answering a question posed by Malaysian Palm Oil Associationchief executive M.R. Chandran on the Ganoderma issue during a workingforum on Future Global Quarantine Measures.
The forum, held in Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with MPOB's InternationalConference on Pests and Diseases of Importance to the Oil Palm Industry,concluded yesterday.
Recent statistics show that over 50% of oil palm plantations in peninsularMalaysia were affected by Ganoderma.
Basri said the disease could cause death of up to 80% of affected oil palmtrees when they were only halfway through their 25- to 30-year lifespan.
He added that oil palm plantations normally suffered losses of between 25%and 45% reduction in fresh fruit bunches yield. Other local problemsarising from pests include bagworms and rhinoceros beetles.
In his closing remark at the conference, Basri said: Depending on thesituation, there is a need for a new quarantine strategy for the globaloil palm industry to adopt.
He said the current rapid travel and massive movement of agriculturalgoods had forced industry players to mount a global strategy on quarantineto push the potential risk of pest and disease outbreak to the minimum.
Through good science and technology, there is a need to be forward-lookingand the willingness to accept the challenge of bio-security, added Basri.