Fig Mosaic Virus Looms in Estahban

Fig Mosaic Virus Looms in Estahban Fig Mosaic Virus Looms in Estahban

Several fig trees in farms in Estahban of Fars Province have contracted the fig mosaic disease (FMD).

Estahban is home to 23,000 hectares of fig farms, 18,000 of which are fruit bearing. The remaining area is under cultivation of fig saplings. During the rainy season, the farms yield nearly 17,000 tons of the fruit. The provincial fig farms are the largest in the world to be irrigated using the dry land farming method. The disease if not prevented can result in decreased fruit yield and in extreme cases end in the death of the trees.  

During the past few years however the condition of the fig farms has severely deteriorated mainly due to drought. Many of the fig farms, some of which date back to one hundred years, have completely withered or are in “a critical state,” taking a toll on the livelihoods of locals, Mehr News Agency reported.  

 Major Threat

According to Fars Province agricultural jihad deputy Mohammad Mehdi Ghasemi, FMD is an infectious disease and poses a serious threat to fig farms and plantations. Ten years ago FMD struck certain fig farms and currently, three of the farms under cultivation of saplings have contracted the disease. As the drought has also impacted the spread of the disease, authorities “see no other way but to burn the infected farms.”

FMD at first reduces fruit yield and eventually destroys the trees altogether; symptoms are distortion and chlorosis of leaves, yellow spotting on fruits, and premature fruit drop. The disease infects all types of fig trees, spreads from tree to tree and passes through use of non sterile farming tools or touch, inosculation of infected grafts and planting an infected sapling within the range of healthy trees. Unfortunately, no definite treatment has been discovered so far.

Estahban valley is 777km southeast of Tehran.The soil and climate in the valley are ideal for cutivation of figs.

The valley has more than 2 million fig trees. It produces 100% of the dried figs grown in Iran. Estahban fig trees  thrive in the valley’s hot dry summer sun. The valley is known as the greatest land in the world for  production of  dried figs by the FAO.