Bats in Khanpur have become a serious threat to the orchards.
“They attack our orchards at night, destroying a large quantity of fruits. We are simply unable to stop them,” Muhammad Nisar, a local farmer, told The Express Tribune on Friday. “They cannot be easily scared away either, even with the help of fire crackers which we use frequently,” he added.
He said, “We have to suffer a huge loss due to these mammals every year.” He explained that he had suffered a loss of Rs400,000 last year due to attack on his lychee trees, for which he had worked all year. He said he spent Rs800,000 on his orchard, but due to the attack he could only make back Rs700,000.
“Every farmer is spending Rs1,500-2,000 daily on firecrackers to avoid such attacks. But despite all these efforts, the bats eat up most of the fruit,” he said.
Riaz, another farmer, said he collects 10 kilograms of lychees from a tree which produces 40 kilograms. “The horticulture department is supposed to help us improve the yield from these orchards. However, they are least bothered about the situation,” he added.
A local agriculture officer, on condition of anonymity, said his department had no strategy to deal with the issue, saying they knew of no repellent either that could keep the bats away from orchards.
Haripur district, which is famous for its fruits, has over 1,294 acres of orchards which produce 1,900 tonnes of different fruits, including lychees, loquats, guavas, apricots, oranges and mangoes. These fruits are enjoyed all over the country.
The lychees are classified into four species: Gola, Bedana, Surakhi and China. Due to its huge demand, they cost significantly more than other fruits. Last year, the cost of Khanpur lychees was Rs220 per kg, owing to the losses the local farmers suffered. This year the cost has been estimated at Rs250 per kg. However, lychees from Punjab are available for Rs160-180 per kg.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2011.