After heavy rains, repeated fierce winds, storm and change in weather this year, farmers lost their standing crops of wheat, apple and seasonal fruits and now late blight disease has starting destroying tomato crops in Mandi, Sundernagar and Balh segments.
Retired agriculture scientist RM Sharma said, “Late blight is a disease which mainly affects tomatoes and potatoes. Once it takes hold, the spores spread rapidly and wet weather encourages development of the fungus.”
He added its symptoms include greasy looking, irregularly shaped gray spots on the leaves. A ring of white mold can develop around the spots, especially in the wet weather.
He said there were three major problems with controlling late blight, once it's detected it's usually too late to save the plant, the spores are airborn and can travel hundreds of miles and late blight is a common killer of tomato and potato crops.
Villagers of Jaral, Chhatar, Jugahan, Rajgarh and Chandyal of Balh valley have informed the agriculture department about spreading of the disease in the entire area and alleged that the sprays provided by the department proved unaffected. The sprays were outdated and they have to purchase branded sprays from the market at higher rates.
The villagers have demanded that the state government should act fast to provide effective sprays and medicines otherwise the disease would spread in the whole district and farmers would lose their cash crop.