BANGKOK—Major natural rubber producers in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have expressed concern over the spread of Pestalotiopsis leaf disease in the countries.
During a Nov. 6 meeting in Bangkok, the members of the International Tripartite Rubber Council said the states were "on alert" as the spread of the disease was "very fast" in Thailand.
Based on the findings of a survey conducted in the southern part of Thailand along Malaysia's border, the affected areas in the Thai province of Narathiwat are estimated to stand at 16,000 hectares.
The figure, according to IRCo, could increase to at least 50,000 hectares along the border area.
Farmers have reported production declines of between 40 percent and 60 percent in the area, IRCo said, noting that the issue could greatly impact rubber production as the months of October, November and December are usually the peak harvest months of the year.
The report also said that the latest information suggested that the disease had spread to Thailand's Trang province, one of the densest rubber production areas.
According to IRCo, the Rubber Authority of Thailand is implementing various measures to contain the spread with the assistance of domestic and international organizations.
In Malaysia, the Malaysian Rubber Board has carried out disease advisories, trainings and spraying demonstration on how to identify and control the disease by fungicide application.
As of Oct. 1, as much as 382,000 hectares of Indonesian plantations were affected by the disease, while the estimated affected area in Peninsular Malaysia is 2,135 hectares.
One of the major causes for the spread of the disease is bad tapping practices and unhealthy rubber trees, according to IRCo. Due to very low rubber prices in the past 5-6 years, farmers have abandoned plantations and ignored the recommended fertilizing system, the statement added.