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Mango orchards at stake




  • MULTAN: A strong threat of lethal disease Quick Decline to the mango orchards has established in South Punjab after elimination of species of Shisham trees while thousands of mango trees were observed last year showing black colored stink liquid at the collar portion of the stem, wilting and then finally dying of the plants with in a few days and the injured roots have been found as primary site of infection spread.

    Neither a complete disease diagnostic set up could be established in Multan to streamline strategy against Quick Decline nor a single research specialist on mango is available in the country to protect the 3rd biggest crop of the country, said the mango growers.

    The Shujaabad mango research station sources complained about non-filling of vacant technical posts and acute shortage of scientific literature and lack of coordination between different research organizations. The only research station is also facing shortage of field staff to conduct field operations while the funds have already been curtailed to ¼ due to which the research work is being hampered adversely.

    The mango growers observed the bureaucratic attitudes in agriculture research wing caused the rapid spread of disease because the researchers did not take the whole matter seriously. The researchers also used delaying tactics into conducting pathogenic tests of infected mango plants, which further promoted the sudden drying of mango trees. The government has been charging a fix tax and water tax from disease infected dry orchards, which are not producing fruits while the mango growers were forcefully cutting their orchards, said mango growers.

    The mango orchards sprawl over 125300 acres with production of 650400 metric tons was received in 2002 from orchards in Punjab districts have been producing average crop since the appearance of lathel diseases in the entire remote belt of Mango. Mango orchards were facing critical attack of fruit disease Quick Decline, lack of grading, vexing and cold storage infrastructure at wide scale. Thousands of mango trees have been cut down in past years due to severe attack of disease Quick Decline that suddenly dry the mango plants and the growers come to know when last stage of prevention has passed. None of a single commercial variety has been found resistant to this disease and the problem is more commons in the canal-irrigated orchards while over irrigation is conducive for thedevelopment of the disease.

    The problem is more severe in the orchards where Shishum trees are planted as windbreaks or nearby the mango orchards and already die back affected and weak plant cannot escape from this disease. The inter cropping with cotton, rice, sorghum and sugar cane seems to be the major contributing factors of Quick Decline and this disease is also observed where the growers are not using Farm Yard Measures and the soil is deficient in organic matter. The oozing of the blackish material on the stem near the collar portion has been observed as primary symptom of this disease.

    This stage prior to wilting can easily be judged through keen examination of the orchards. The water movement and nutrients from roots to the top of the plant and the transportation of the carbohydrates from the upper portion to the roots has stopped due to blockage of xylem and phloem by secretions of the pathogen and degradation of the cells at the collar site. The plant upper part (canopy) and the lower portion (root system) die at the same time due to the most lethal attack of “Quick Decline” and this problem is appearing every
    nook and corner in the Punjab Province orchards where mango is being grown and is a raising threat to the industry.

    This disease was observed first time Shishum trees in 1995 and it started destruction of species but none of precautionary measures were adopted and the disease rapidly traveled in all the Punjab and eliminated Shishum species planted along the roads.

    These crises seriously hit the furniture industry and the shortage of Shishum wood in all over the Province. The mango growers first time observed the disease attack in mango orchards in 1997-98 and a grower Mian Muhammad Salim Kamlana had started correspondence with the Punjab government but all in vain.

    The former Punjab Minister for Agriculture Khurshid Zaman Qureshi and Federal Minister Commerce Abdul Razaq Daud visited Multan in 1999 and ordered for field survey to check the spread of Quick Decline when mango growers strongly forced and compelled them. The slow official movements provided a favorable environment to the disease spread and the government constituted a committee in 2001 namely “Punjab Mango Diseases and Management Committee” and nominated Mian Muhammad Salim Kamlana as its chairman for seriously working on the disease and conducting field surveys and designing
    long term and short term strategy to get a rid from the disease.

    The PMDMC visited at least 400 orchards in Multan, Sahiwal, Chechawatni, Mian Channu, Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, Alipur, Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan and other mango growing areas and found critical symptoms of the disease.

    The production of mangoes was 989.8 million metric tons from the orchards spread over 239.7 million acres in 2001. In Punjab the production was 650,400 metric tons from orchards area of 125300 acres. The PMDMC also found the sudden drying of about25000 mango trees only in the area of Bossan of district Multan and tehsil Kabirwala of district Khanewal and the committee recommended for cultural tests of infected trees and preparation of investigation report on daily basis.

    The PMDMC also recommended pathogenic tests to trace the actual source of disease but researchers used delaying tactics and they conducted tests after continues hue and cry raised by growers, which tests revealed the source of Quick Decline was disease “Botryodipodia”.

    The PMDMC member Mian Muhammad Salim Kamlana said the government and researchers were very keen and trying their best to root out the disease from orchards. Following the pathogenic tests, the government has fixed three years target to root out the disease from orchards. He said the federal government’s national research council (NRC) has also offered the services of scientists for launching joint efforts against the disease.

    A numbers of mango growers observed the soil roots and barks samples from the affected plants were collected for analysis in the laboratory and texturally the soil was found to be loamy and the organic contents were found low.

    The mango growers’ association president Syed Zahid Gardezi said the Mango City of Multan is required a research & disease diagnostic laboratory because the mango research station was established in Shujaabad in 1976 but it could not done significant activities due to its unapproachable location.

    The mango orchards were facing serious challenges in management, which promoted the malformation, alternate bearing, unreliable fruit setting, poor cropping, and insects’ attack and disease infestation.

    The cold chain facilities are promoted at levels, an integrated reefer transportation system should be established, and the airfreight facilities at Multan airport are required to upgrade the handling of palletized transit mango cargo. The PCSIR facilities at the Lahore unit are too far and out of reach for many entrepreneurs and agriculturists to benefit from it and there is a dire need to set up PCSIR in Multan, he added.

    nadeemshah69@hotmail.com

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