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Gildernew confident Southern Potato Brown Rot outbreak is contained

10 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, has reacted to the announcement by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAF) of an outbreak of Brown Rot in the South-East of Ireland.

The Minister expressed her concern about this unfortunate development on the island, but stated that swift action had been taken locally to ensure that the disease has not come north. The bacteria Ralstonia solanacearum was found in water samples taken as part of DAF's routine control programme at two packing premises and traced back to a grower's premises.

Minister Gildernew said,

"My officials have been in close contact with their counterparts in Dublin and have been checking for possible direct or indirect links with local potato crops. We are confident that no seed potatoes from the infected farm have come North and entered our own seed potato classification scheme."

She sought to reassure Northern growers by continuing, "Investigations to date suggest that no seed potatoes from the infected farm were moved into the North for ware production in the past two years."

The Minister highlighted that the Department has taken steps to contain any prospect of the contamination spreading North. She said, "Our investigations are ongoing and if any links with the infected farm are identified suspect crops will be thoroughly examined and tested."

Growers, importers and processors are urged to be vigilant and ensure that the source of all potatoes is traceable and that consignments carry the required plant health registration number.

Further information on precautions growers can take to combat Brown Rot can be found on the DARD website at: Large print, Braille or other special needs copies may be obtained directly from DARD by telephoning (028) 9052 0836.

Note to Editors

  • The potato production sector in the North comprises the seed potato and the ware potato sub-sectors.
  • Brown Rot is caused by the bacteria Ralstonia solanacearum and results in yield losses in host plants and the rotting of tubers. The disease poses on risk to human or animal health. The handling of the disease is governed by EU legislation which is followed by the Department.

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