Arabi crop in Dharampur infested with Blight disease | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Arabi crop in Dharampur infested with Blight disease

The farmers of Dharmpur segment of Mandi district are a worried lot. A vegetable crop of the farmers has fallen prey to a lethal disease, just when they are recovering from the loss incurred due to the recent Dharampur floods.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 31, 2014 23:14 IST
HT Correspondent

The farmers of Dharmpur segment of Mandi district are a worried lot. A vegetable crop of the farmers has fallen prey to a lethal disease, just when they are recovering from the loss incurred due to the recent Dharampur floods.

The Arabi (colocasia roots), which is one of the major vegetable crops of the area, has been infested with a blight disease. As a result, farmers have begun fearing losing crop worth lakhs of rupees.

Agricultural crops are affected by the Blight disease due to infections caused by pathogenic <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathogenic> organisms. It leads to rapid chlorosis <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorosis>, browning and eventually the death of plant tissues such as leaves, branches, twigs, or floral organs.

In the late 90s, the state forest department caged and transported monkeys from Shimla to forest areas in other districts of the state to control the population of monkeys at Shimla. Later on, the population of monkeys increased in other districts and monkeys started destroying the crops of farmers in other districts. The monkey menace forced farmers to abandon their fields for more than two decades.

Dharmpur and Sarkaghat segments in Mandi district were the most affected areas, where farmers had started avoiding traditional crops. But nearly 5-6 years ago, a few retired agriculture scientists advised farmers to start sowing colocasia roots, ginger, beet roots, turmeric and yam, in their fields as these crops were safe from attacks by monkeys and wild animals.

A farmer from Sayoh area of Dharampur Om Prakash said, “Earlier, we used to abandon our fields as wild animals attacked the crops. However, during the last few years, we have been receiving good financial returns after sowing colocasia roots, ginger, beet roots, turmeric, in our fields as suggested by scientists and agriculturists.”

He said the blight disease had infested all agricultural fields in the whole Dharmpur area this year. He said the disease had come as a shock for farmers who had lost their valuables and houses in the floods that occurred due to incessant rainfall on August 13 and 14.

He said most farmers were not educated and aware of the precautions to be taken while sowing colocasia seeds in fields.

He said the government should provide compensation for the loss of colocasia root crops as a majority of the farmers had lost a major chunk of their fields and other sources of income such as dairy farming due to the recent floods and they were now left with no alternate sources of revenue.

Agriculture scientist SR Pant said farmers sowing colocasia root seeds in agricultural fields were not aware of the process of seed treatment needed to save the plant from blight, scab or fungal diseases.

He said the agriculture department had added the treatment process of colocasia roots seeds in the list of proposed awareness campaign programmes and hoped that farmers would get 100% output from their fields next time.