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The potato plague advances unstoppable in Galicia, just three years after detecting

"There are reasons to be concerned," says Victor Novo, head of the health and plant production service of the Xunta de Galicia.

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The potato plague advances unstoppable in Galicia, just three years after detecting

The experts of Xunta de Galicia do not hide ir concern about uncertain future of se centers of intensive production because no one can assure that y are safe from devouring larvae of moth that metamorphose inside tuber. In that case, economic impact would be disastrous for sector, as it affects thousands of families who have been living in this agricultural business for dozens of generations. Only in crops controlled by protected Geographical Indication (IGP), production in 2017 was 117.8 million kilos.

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"There are reasons to be concerned," says Victor Novo, head of Department of Health and Plant production of Ministry of Rural Environment of Xunta de Galicia. The pest expert explains that re is no guarantee of being able to stop this, deadliest of those that attack potato, and prevent it from spreading to vital productive areas because re are many possibilities of dispersion of insect.

Novo alert of difficulties to control its propagation that not only occurs through movement of product from one zone to anor, but also by or goods that constantly go from one side to anor in trucks or vans and se also serve me It gave transport so that a moth could travel so many kilometers since it has no flight capacity.

"We recommend that you do not accumulate large quantities of potato because this is a pest of warehouse because se places are covered those that favor placing of larvae, about 300 of each fertile female who only lives two days," explains technician. "The vigilance and alertness of producers is crucial because in surprising advance of plague y have weighed bad practices of producers by movement of goods that were contaminated", it affects.

The treatment of extermination of insect and measures of prevention of central government and Xunta have been insufficient, controls have intensified to prevent exit of product of contaminated zones and Department of Rural Environment has Destroyed more than 400 tons of potatoes, to which we will have to add production of Muxía, last town hall fenced by insect.

The signs of destruction in this Coruña municipality are already alarming. The Official Journal of Galicia (DOG) published on Friday 6 April resolution establishing deadlines for declaration of stocks of potato consumption, seed and potato surface planted, as well as planting surfaces in area stopper and N Muxía.

These declarations will be reference data for Xunta to pay producers compensations that correspond to m, same that receive rest of affected in or 32 municipalities and that already exceeds 176,000 euros. Rural environment has already paid aid to 1,323 beneficiaries of which 23.28% are from province of a Coruña and remaining 76.72% of Lugo.

Farmers are anxiously awaiting effects of new control measures of Xunta and recent central government decree for nearly a hundred municipalities affected in Spain whose economic impact has not yet been quantified. The decree comes to reinforce autonomous controls already existing in Galicia, Asturias and Canary Islands, although it foresees strong prohibitions of crops to stop expansion of moth whose survival only depends on potato and without it, would die.

"You have to be afraid"

The experts do not know for sure why and when Guatemalan moth landed in Galicia and believe that ir arrival from Canary Islands was probably long before 2015, when National Reference Laboratory of Valencia gave alert when analyzing a specimen that He had delivered a farmer from area of Ferrol Terra. With a dispersion difficult to define for technicians, insect is transported by humans by traffic of goods, both of product and seed.

"In face of this panorama, we must be afraid," says Victor Novo, head of health and Plant production Department of Xunta de Galicia, "because problem is not so much in family farming for self-consumption as in a large industry from which so many families depend and Now y see ir future at grave risk. "

The Xunta has placed a trapping network (1,625 units) throughout Galicia based on pheromones that attract males to control presence of insect in crops or warehouses and propagation rate of plague. But se belts can only be installed under technicians ' supervision so that y do not have an effect called in uncontaminated areas.

In municipalities declared as a buffer zone, as is case of Muxía (A Coruña), neighbors will have to report ir plantations, with prohibition of commercializing tuber that is not bagged and labelling, to avoid that it leaves outside perimeters of Security under threat of heavy administrative fines of up to 3,000 euros.

The Ministry of Rural Environment has deployed a team of technicians and advisors in Muxía to serve affected and resolve ir doubts to comply with controls established through informative talks that are being taught in all municipalities in environment Where producers are asked to collaborate. From Galician government try to raise awareness of those affected that " fight against this plague of quarantine commits us all," indicate sources of Department of Rural Environment.

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