Egypt Independent

Agriculture Ministry officials blame low tomato yields on virus



The Ministry of Agriculture is in the process of drawing up technical committees to examine tomato production throughout the country in order to determine the cause of this year's lower-than-usual crop yields.

The committees are expected to inspect areas infected with the white fly, which is known for carrying the destructive yellow leaves curl virus.

Ministry officials admit that national tomato production has fallen by some 80 percent on the year as a direct result of the virus, which has been dubbed the “deadly disease.”

According to horticulture professor Salah Mohamedein, the white fly is known for infecting tomato plants with the yellow curl virus.

“Tomato yields can fall by as much as 80 percent in early-season infections, and by 40 percent in a late-season infections,” he explained. He added that the virus could be combated by cultivating a local hybrid known as "Agyad" and an imported one known as "Hybrid 448."

“Normal productivity for tomatoes stands at some 50 tons per acre,” said Mohamedein. “This, however, can fall to less than 20 tons per acre in infected areas."

Nevertheless, tomato prices–which have skyrocketed in recent weeks–fell from LE10 per kilo to LE8 per kilo in some areas of the country.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.