Two agricultural scientists from the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), the leading agricultural educational university in Brazil, visited Omani farmers in the North Al Batinah Governorate to share the latest research and technology for citrus and mango cultivation.
Supported by Vale and in coordination with the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), the project was established in 2012 with the aim of restoring Oman's two most traditional crops, by investigating control measures against Mango Wilt and Witch's Broom that have been affecting these yields, and in turn, help achieve better growth and harvest.
A research into the decline of both the crops has been funded by Vale, and has allowed researchers from Oman to visit Brazil to understand how growers cultivate citrus and mango to obtain higher yields. Acid lime was Oman's second most valuable export product in the 1970s but ever since, over 90 per cent trees have shown symptoms of Witch's Broom disease caused by a Phytoplasm, and died within five-eight years, reducing the local production by half. Mango trees, on the other hand, have been affected by the Ceratocystisfimbriata fungus, with 60-70 per cent trees dying over the last 17 years.
Through Vale's work with researchers at the SQU and the UFV, the pathogens causing these two diseases have been studied to develop sustainable control strategies, while focusing on the regeneration of agricultural areas in Oman, and the replenishment of fruit supplies by adopting new cultivation techniques.
Benefits local community Sergio Espeschit, CEO of Vale in Oman, said, "Our partnerships in Brazil and Oman have created the opportunity to engage educational institutions in the transfer of knowledge, and the sharing of research and expertise to benefit the local community in North Al Batinah. Currently, the Sultanate imports 66 per cent of its mangoes. This project will contribute in changing the scenario while raising the in-country value by providing the means to farmers, to transform farms into sustainable commercial agri-businesses."
Speaking at a workshop conducted for local farmers at the SQU, Fabricio de Ávila Rodrigues, Professor of Plant Pathology at the UFV, and Dalmo Lopes de Siqueira, Professor of Crop Sciences at the UFV, believe that the exchange of information would result in significantly larger harvests in the future.
Professor Siqueira said, "Together with Vale and the SQU, our main objective is to share the Brazilian agricultural knowledge gained through our research conducted in Brazil, and provide Omani farmers with the techniques necessary to increase yield of both crops, and prevent further erosion of such important crops."
He added, "We will also monitor fruit production in Oman and share the findings of our projects in Brazil, focusing on plant pathology, while aiming to maximise our contribution to the sustainable growth of North Al Batinah's agriculture industry. One of the objectives of our research is to obtain Brazilian mango cultivars that are resistant to Mango Wilt, to be introduced in Oman. Omani farmers can propagate them in the Sultanate's climate and specific soil conditions."
Published on: 6/17/2014