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May 8, 2017

Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia to Coordinate Efforts to Combat Soy Rust

The city of Cuiaba, which is the capital of the state of Mato Grosso, was the site last week of the first meeting of the Latin American Antiresistance Working Group (GTA - Latam). As reported by So Noticias, the working group consists of scientists, industry representatives, and government officials from Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia that came together to start the process of developing a coordinated effort to combat soybean rust in South America.

According to the president of Soybean and Corn Producers Association of Mato Gross Aprosoja-MT), South America is the leading soybean producing region in the world this group was born out of the need to develop policies needed to combat the most devastating disease of soybeans. If left untreated, soybean rust can reduce soybean yields up to 80%.

Brazilian scientists have long complained that Bolivia and Paraguay have not done enough to combat soybean rust even though the soybean production in those two countries lies just across the border from Brazilian soybean fields. Bolivia is of particular concern because of the lack of control measures in the country and the fact that what happens in Bolivia can impact soybean producers in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

One of the most effective measures to combat the disease in Brazil has been the implementation of a soybean-free period when no live soybean plants are permitted in or along soybean fields or around storage or transportation facilities. This lack of live soybean plants helps to hinder the movement of rust spores from one growing season to the next. Brazilian officials have urged Paraguay and Bolivia to implement similar restrictions.

Soybean rust is native to Asia and it was first identified in South America in eastern Paraguay from where it moved into Brazil during the 2000/01 growing season. No one knows for sure how it arrived in Paraguay, but a primary suspect is packing material used in shipments of goods from China to Paraguay. Regardless of how it arrived, it is now a permanent resident in South America.

It took scientists and farmers in Brazil several years to develop relatively effective control measures, but it costs Brazilian farmers billions of dollars in increased costs and lost productivity. In recent years scientists have become alarmed that many of the old standby chemicals used to combat the disease are no longer effective because the disease has developed resistance. One of the focuses of this working group is to coordinate efforts to slow down the development of even more chemical resistance.

The next meeting of the working group is scheduled later this month or next month in Bolivia.