MOROCCO – The Moroccan tomato industry has had approximately 10 waves of ToBRFV in the 2022-2023 tomato planting season according to a report by The European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO).

According to the report, Morocco has been suffering from the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) since 2021.

The virus was first detected in the country in October 2021 in the Souss-Massa region and subsequently spread to the Dakhla region in 2022.

Crop losses due to the virus has continued in 2023 with reportedly high costs incurred due to the virus.

ToBRFV has been reported in European countries including Albania, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK.

Cases have also been confirmed in Central America and North America, including Canada, Mexico, and the USA. 

There are, however, strategies in place by research corporations to combat the spread of the virus and eventually eradicate it entirely.

Syngenta’s ToBRFV Information Center, for instance, was the first to announce ToBRFV resistant tomato varieties in late 2020, and the first commercial varieties were planted in early 2021.

“Today we have varieties available with ToBRFV resistance, with many more in development, broad resistance will be built in the portfolio during the next several years,” said Ruud Kaagman, Global crop Unit Head for Tomato. 

According to the organization, Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus has a significant impact on growers and can result in a lose of up to 70% of their produce given its capacity to spread rapidly.

The ongoing research aims to expand resistance options and provide some that use different resistance mechanisms.

“Our researchers are diligent in developing the right ToBRFV resistance that also contains a complete package of resistances and adaptability to suit grower needs without sacrificing the flavor consumers expect,” explains Kaagman.

Syngenta currently has five varieties with ToBRFV resistant tomatoes available for commercial use including Lansor, Barosor, Ibeth, Quri, and Waqu.

The organization’s researchers have introduced the varieties to the markets and are currently in the process of introgression to bring in new varieties and new kinds of tomatoes.

As these experts continue researching new solutions, they’re committed to a stair-step approach to ToBRFV resistance, with each new mode of action discovered bringing a higher level of resistance than the last because viruses evolve.

“Viruses are unpredictable and hard to control, therefore, it’s our goal to go as fast as possible to bring new resistances to the market,” said Rik Lootens, Syngenta Portfolio Lead for Tomato and Blocky Pepper, Active Greenhouse and High-Tech Production.

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