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Central Asia’s greenhouse business under siege – Russian ban not greatest danger

Last week, as EastFruit reported, Russia banned imports of greenhouse tomatoes and peppers from the Ferghana region of Uzbekistan due to detection of a quarantine object, particularly, the brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV), in the products from this region. However, this ban may not be the biggest problem.

According to the international expert of greenhouse technologies Marite Gailite from the Latvian vegetable growers association Latvijas dārznieks, with Tobamovirus (ToBRFV), the situation may turn out to be much more threatening for the greenhouse business in Uzbekistan and the whole Central Asia than a ban on exports.

Read more: Uzbekistan: prices for greenhouse vegetables increased by 79% in 2020

“This virus persists in the soil and causes severe crop losses. If it continues spreading, it can lead to a significant reduction of the area under tomatoes in the region of Central Asia. And if infected tomatoes get to other regions, the situation for producers will be worse than what we have with Covid-19,” explains Marite Gailite.

Read more: Why is Uzbekistan killing their successful greenhouse industry?

In addition to tomatoes and peppers, Tobamovirus can also infect other nightshade crops, in particular, potatoes or tobacco. Since this virus began to cause damage to crops relatively recently, in many countries, it is not yet included in the list of quarantine objects, and its identification is difficult. Therefore, Uzbek greenhouses need to take the situation very seriously, quickly localise the focus of infection, and prevent the spread of the virus.

Other countries in the region may also introduce temporary bans of Uzbek products as a precautionary measure. In particular, Kazakhstan is already considering it. 

Likewise, Russian authorised services will soon check all imported lots of tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables for the virus. The greenhouse business in Russia today is one of the most modern in the world due to billions of dollars of investment made by domestic investors over the past five years.


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