With supply of fungicides hit, Punjab kinnow growers a worried lot
Labour another concern; pesticide dealers seek special clearance from government for consignments stuck in other statesUpdated: Mar 31, 2020 19:31 IST
With supplies of fungicides and insecticides getting caught in the lockdown for over ten days now, kinnow growers are a worried lot. Labour is also a concern, even as the recent spell of rain means the threat of fungus has increased.
A state award-winning kinnow grower Arvind Setia told HT on Sunday that orchards urgently need micronutrients and sprays. “We also need labour. Orchards are also under threat from pests like Citrus Psylla, Citrus Leaf Minor and Citrus Whitefly. Pest management during flowering is crucial. Farmers will face huge losses as delay in sprays will affect the quality of kinnows at this stage of growth,” he said.
He added that though Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had ordered that passes be issued to farmers, uncertainty prevailed over the movement of labourers to orchards.
Punjab leads in the cultivation of kinnow, a hybrid between King and Willow Leaf Mandarin. Abohar in Fazilka produces 60% of the state’s fruit with the area under it pegged at around 33,000 hectares.
Pesticide Dealers Association of Abohar Rakesh Kalyani said, “Stock available with dealers is almost exhausted. Kinnow orchards require supply of fungicides and pesticides till April-end. Regional warehouses of major manufacturers in Bathinda and Ludhiana are closed after curfew in Punjab. Truckloads of consignments of farm chemicals are stuck in states due to the national lockdown.”
He added, “As drivers of these vehicles are inaccessible on phone, the state government should intervene in getting clearance for these consignments,” Kalyani added.
Bhim Nyol of Khatwan village is worried as he has yet to harvest kinnow from his 25-acre farm. “Amid this period of uncertainty, I have time till April 15 to harvest and transport kinnow to markets. Workers are unwilling to come to farms due to police presence,” he said. Fazilka deputy commissioner AS Sandhu did not respond to repeated calls and text messages.
Admitting that delay would damage the crop, deputy director (horticulture) JS Bhatti said the government was trying to provide chemicals at doorsteps of farmers.
“The department is working to provide relief to farmers, including ensuring waxing of the fruit. We will assist in getting permits for transport vehicles in Punjab and other states,” he added.