By Saleem Shaikh
KARACHI, March 5: Mango orchards on thousands of acres in Sindh have come under different viral disease attack.
The growers said that a large mango growing area has already been cleared to prevent the spread of disease. The situation is reported to be more serious in Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Matiari, Naushero Feroz, Sangarh and Umerkot districts.
Officials in the Plant Protection wing of the Sindh agriculture department confirmed reports of viral attack. At present, more than 40 per cent orchards are infected. They feared significant losses to the mango production this year.
Growers have complained that the official did not offer any help to fight the virus on their mango orchards.
“I have visited the office of EDO agriculture Matiari several times to seek their help to control the problem and save other nearby orchards, but the response was very poor,” said Nabi Khan Samejo, a prominent mango grower.
“No estimates about the total damage to the crop are available but it has become a limiting factor in many mango-growing areas,” said a senior official in the agriculture department`s extension wing.
Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) said that because of frequent viral attacks province`s overall mango output and its share in export would decline significantly.
Mango is cultivated in the province on around 56,000 hectares, with annual production of some 390,000 tons, according to provincial agriculture department`s statistics.
“But, mango crop this year is likely to post 30-40 per cent fall in the production due to the disease,” said mango growers.
They said it was intriguing that pest or viral attacks on mango orchards were more frequent in the province but there was no testing laboratory, where the mango growers could get help for overcoming the disease.
Mango grower Naveed Rahimo in Naushero Feroz said there was only one testing laboratory in Lahore, but it is very difficult to send samples of virus or disease-hit mango trees there and get the problem diagnosed.
Muhammad Afzal Arain, director Nuclear Institute for Agriculture, Tando Jam said two plant pathology laboratories have been established at the institute, where samples of the affected mango trees are being tested.
Former director Agriculture Research Institute in Tando Jam, Dr Abdul Sattar Buriro said that since the mango orchards were given on contracts to private investors, reports of viral attacks have become more frequent.
They do not invest in proper care of the orchards, he lamented.
He urged the farmers to avoid contracting their mango orchards and properly look after their gardens by ensuring proper irrigation and balanced nutrients.