Published on February 20, 2011
Tomato growers from Badin and Thatta districts said that almost 50 per cent of the standing crop had been affected and production was likely to drop by over 40 per cent.
Tomato crop in Sindh is sown on 61,000-65,000 hectares annually.
Although the tomato is cultivated in Tando Mohammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad districts, the Badin and Thatta together account for more than 60 per cent of the total tomato production of the province.
Growers said that the viral attack had caused the stems to shrivel and the plants to topple over, while others said that the leaves of affected crop had turned black and were shedding the fruit.
Badin District Officer (Agriculture) Mohammad Yousuf confirmed reports of the viral attack.
“Almost 50 per cent of the standing crop in Badin district has been hit by the leaf curl virus, which is carried by the white fly,” he said.
According to statistics wing of the provincial agriculture department, the tomato crop had been sown in Badin alone on 14,541 hectares and 14,372.4 tons production was expected. “The tomato crop has been affected by the leaf curl virus, the post-production losses estimated at 7,000 to 8,000 tons in Badin district alone,” said Amin Memon, Chairman Lower Sindh Growers` Association.
The official in the agriculture department said that once the disease attack on the tomato crop surfaces, it is very difficult to prevent it from spreading to other tomato growing areas in the province.
He said that no pesticide could help overcome the viral attack at this stage. But, such attacks on the tomato crop were possible to be avoided if the farmers use pesticide sprays at the early stage.
Director-General of the Agriculture Extension Abdul Waheed Shaikh said that he had already research teams to the affected areas to study the problem, its nature and causes. “Once the problem is properly diagnosed, farmers will be prescribed pesticides accordingly to lower the crop losses,” he added.