Bangkok – Thailand is using drones to spray chemicals on natural rubber (NR) plantations in order to stop the spread of Pestalotiopsis fungal disease in the southern parts of the country.
In a picture story released 19 Nov, the International Rubber Consortium (IRCo) showed a drone being used to spray chemicals in the Narathiwas region, near Rayong, southern Thailand.
Earlier this month, officials from major NR producers, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, expressed concern over the spread of the leaf disease in the countries.
At a 6 Nov meeting in Bangkok, members of the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC) said authorities were “on alert” due to the "very fast" spread of the disease in Thailand.
A survey conducted in the southern part of Thailand along Malaysia’s border found that affected areas in the Thai province of Narathiwat total an estimated16,000 hectares.
The figure, according to IRCo, could increase to at least 50,000 hectares along the border area.
Farmers have reported production declines of 40-60% in the area, said IRCo, warning that the issue could impact rubber production over the final three months of the year – usually the peak harvest period..
The report added that recent information suggests that the disease has spread to Thailand’s Trang province, one of the densest rubber production areas.