The output of guava orchids has been severely affected by mealybug insects due to which growers are suffering losses amounting to 60-70% in and around Larkana district, said Sindh Chamber of Agriculture President Sirajul Oliya Rashdi.
“Pesticides used for killing other insects are being used by the growers to eliminate diseases but there is still no remedy to combat the mealybug, which has slashed production of seasonal guava fruit by 60% causing losses to the peasants,” he said on Saturday.
The official elaborated that guava orchids were spread over 10,000 hectares in Larkana district alone and two years back, the output was approximately 65,000 tons, which had nosedived to 25,000-30,000 tons last year.
Previously, almost 200 trucks of guava fruit were sent on a daily basis to different parts of the country but now, output for hardly 50 trucks was produced.
He added that losses from decline in yield could be assessed from this figure easily.
“The provincial government and the plant protection department need to gear up efforts to save guava and other fruit orchids or natural fruits will vanish in the coming years due to losses and regular attacks by harmful insects,” he remarked.
Rashdi pointed out that currently, a carton of 20kgs was being sold between Rs500-1,000 but it remained unavailable in the markets.
He underlined that earlier, 150,000-200,000 labourers worked in guava orchids across the district, however, the number dropped to just 20,000 now.
The official said that tillers had already endured hefty losses on account of wheat, rice and other crops while the government failed to grant any subsidy.
Shamshad Shahani, a grower from Chooharpur village, said that farmers had suffered huge losses on account of wheat, tomato and paddy crops and now, losses on guava have been a major financial hit.
Poor growers used to receive advance payment worth millions of rupees from agents of different markets of the country and in return, they supplied them with duly packed guava fruit in return.
“However this year, the yield turned out to be record low hence farmers cannot even make payment to the working labourers who are plucking guava from the trees,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2020.
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