Scab, Alternaria hit apple crop in south Kashmir

SHABIR AHMAD
ANANTNAG: At least 50 percent apple orchards in south Kashmir are under the grip of diseases like Scab and Alternaria, according to fruit growers who blame substandard pesticides for the situation.
In Dachnipora, Yaripora and Frisal areas of Kulgam and Anantnag district, 40 to 50 percent apple crop is hit while in Shopian district at least 80 percent fruit stands damaged due to Scab, the growers say.
“The situation is alarming. Even pesticides have failed to work. We are worried about our produce. The Horticulture authorities have not bothered to visit our orchards to issue some advisory,” said a fruit grower, Gulzar Ahmad of Viddy, Hatigam.
General Secretary, CPI (M) for district Kulgam and Shopian, Ghulam Nabi Malik said that at least 80 percent orchards have been hit by Scab in Shopian district alone.
“As per our assessment, Shopian is the worst hit, with 80 percent damage while in other fruit-producing areas of the region, 50 to 60 percent fruit is hit,” Malik who himself is an orchardist told Kashmir Reader. He blamed spurious pesticides and silence of the authorities over their availability and sale in the market for the alarming situation.
“Orchardists have applied almost all the pesticides recommended by the Horticulture authorities, but they have not proved to be of any help. It clearly indicates that pesticides available in the market are spurious. If the situation is not brought under control there will be a total disaster in the months to come,” Malik said.
However, officials blame unfavorable weather for the situation. “There are many factors responsible for the Scab at this stage. The main cause is unfavorable weather conditions and spray on trees during morning and broad daylight in hot summer days,” Chief Horticulture Officer, Anantnag, Mohammad Yousuf Dar told Kashmir Reader.
Dar claimed that the situation is under control. He asked the fruit growers to follow the advisory of the department as the spray schedule is concerned. “If the orchardists go by the advisory of the officials, I am sure the situation will improve,” the officer said.