This year’s kinnow yield was markedly low compared to previous years because of various plant diseases that plagued citrus orchards in the Punjab, Kinnow Growers’ Association president Hamid Saleem Warraich said on Sunday.
He said the kinnow harvest normally raked in profits for farmers in ‘kinnow season’. However, this year was different, he said. “Citrus canker, one of the most devastating plant diseases, spread like wild fire across the kinnow production belt.” He said the Punjab produces 59 per cent of kinnows grown in Pakistan. It is counted among the top 30 fruits grown in the country and the second most widely grown fruit in the world in terms of area covered and production, he said. “Almost 64 per cent of citrus fruit grown in the Punjab is kinnow.”
He said farmers had to bear the brunt of the damage wreaked by the citrus canker disease. Several commercial citrus varieties were highly susceptible to the disease and kinnow was the most vulnerable variety, he said. “Some of the symptoms of the disease are severe defoliation, dieback and fruit drop.” Once a plant is infected, the value of the fruit drops markedly so that it becomes unmarketable, he said.
Warraich requested the government to conduct thorough research and look for solutions to prevent citrus canker from destroying their yield. He said the government could also sign export agreements with foreign markets to enhance the support of the citrus industry.
The citrus research director said that the main reason behind the citrus slump was that most of the farmers had not adopted modern pruning practices in their orchards. He said there were several ways of pruning trees that could control diseases and pest infections and enhance the quality of fruit.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2016.
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