CHARSADDA: Fruit fly attack in Charsadda district has caused panic among fruit growers who fear incurring big financial losses if immediate measures are not taken by the agriculture department.
Owners of fruit orchards, including Kifayatullah Tarnao, Sajid Gul, Irshad Ali Khan and others told this scribe that fruit fly had attacked orchards of guava, loquat, apricot, plum and other fruits located across the district. They said that if the pest attack was not contained immediately it would cause them financial losses worth millions of rupees.
Agriculture experts said that female fruit fly laid eggs under the skin of guava, apricot, plum and other fruit. The eggs hatch into whitish maggots that feed on the decaying fruit, which cause rotting and damage the fruit.
However, local farmers claimed that pest attack on the fruit produced larva which grew up into worms and started eating away the fruit before it was ripe. They said that the most affected areas included union councils Sherpao, Abbazai, Dosehra and Umarzai where plum, apricot and litchi orchards were nearing harvest season.
Guava, apricot and loquat of Charsadda are known for their taste
Land of Charsadda is the most fertile in the province due to its vast plains where three rivers – Sardaryab (Kabul River), Khyali (Swat River), Jindi River (a tributary of Swat River) – irrigate vast tracts of land.
The agriculture experts said that about 20 per cent area of Charsadda had a variety of orchards. Union councils Khanmai and Mohammad Narhi are famous for producing quality strawberry and melon. In North Hashtnagar region union councils Mandani, Dhaki, Harichand and Shodag are famous for producing quality cash crop of tobacco, sugarcane and wheat. Abbazai area produces quality guava, loquat, pear, litchi and mango. Abbazai mango, locally known as Anar Ato, is said to be even exported.
Fruit growers from various parts of Charsadda told this correspondent that they had requested the district agriculture department for arranging spray and insecticides, but its response was awaited. They demanded of the government to save agriculture in the district as most of the people were connected with farming.
When contacted, an official of district agriculture office advised the farmers to buy insecticides from market to avoid financial losses as there was nothing the government could do in this regard. However, the farmers said that pesticides in the open market were expensive and that they didn’t know which pesticide to use. They said the district agriculture office should extend some sort of help so they could save their crops.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2017