Uttarakhand farmers get very low yield from pest infested imported fruit plants: Experts
Fruit growers in Uttarakhand get hardly any yield from their orchards because they mostly get to grow imported plants that are not checked for viruses and diseases in absence of hi-tech scientific facilities in the state and a dedicated lawUpdated: Jan 07, 2018 18:51 IST
Fruit growers in Uttarakhand get hardly any yield from their orchards because they mostly get to grow imported plants that are not checked for viruses and diseases in absence of hi-tech scientific facilities in the state and a dedicated law.
No wonder, private agencies importing diseased rootstocks of fruit trees are making a moolah. But both big and marginal horticulturists, who are at the receiving end, are having a tough time.
For, virus or pest infested imported fruit plants they grow in their orchards either give extremely low yields or get wiped out.
“Fruit growers get either a very low yield or no yield at all because plants they grow in their orchards are mostly diseased. Such plants imported by private agencies are distributed among farmers by the government at subsidised rates,” said a source in the horticulture department.
“Diseased plants reach farmers as we have neither a dedicated plant quarantine law in the state nor do we have any facilities for virus indexing of imported diseased plants,” he said.
VS Negi, director, horticulture and fruit processing, admitted that the state was yet to have a plant quarantine law.
“We don’t have a plant quarantine act in the state,” he said and agreed that private agencies that import rootstocks of different species of fruit trees “tend to take advantage” of the lacuna.
Negi said virus indexing of “imported plants” was carried out at GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology.
“Before that imported rootstocks are checked at the plant quarantine units of airports,” he further said.
Sources in the horticulture department though clarified that a dedicated centre was required in the state for a proper virus indexing of imported rootstocks of fruit trees.
Neighbouring Himachal Pradesh has one such dedicated unit -Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology at Palampur.
“A thorough virus indexing of imported plants of different fruits including apples is carried out in that state-of-the-art facility,” said social activist Mahendra Kunwar of Himalayan Action Research Centre, a Dehradun-based development organisation.
“All imported rootstocks are properly checked in that facility before they are distributed among fruit growers,” he said.
Himachal Pradesh “also has a dedicated plant quarantine law that makes virus indexing of all imported plants” legally mandatory.
“We should also have such a dedicated law to ensure supplies of disease-free plants to all big or small fruit growers in the state,” Kunwar told HT.
Fruit growers admitted that the absence of a dedicated law and state-of-the-art facility for virus indexing of “diseased varieties” of plants had badly affected their production.
“We are supplied imported plants by the government assuring that they are high yielding varieties of fruits. But in most cases all such plants provide extremely low yield or no yield at all, as they develop all kinds of diseases,” said Vijay Jardhari, a farmer based at Jardhari, a village in Tehri district.
In that connection, he referred to a project under which the government propagated the Italian variety of apple in the Chamba-Mussoorie fruit belt.
Under the project that began in the 1990s, the government “continued” to provide the hill farmers plants of the high yielding variety of Italian apples till 2000.
“But it (project) had to be folded up as it failed to increase our yield,” said the coordinator of ‘Beej Bachao Andolan’, hill farmers’ popular movement that “aims to conserve” seeds of the locally grown crops.
Jagat Singh Harnawal, an orchardist based at Ramgarh, said he planted imported saplings of “supposedly high yielding variety” of apples in his orchard some years ago but they all got “diseased”.