Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

Rs 200 crore cherry economy of Himachal facing threat from Phytoplasma disease

SHIMLA: The spread of Phytoplasma disease in cherry plants has left the farmers worried in Himachal Pradesh. Though the disease was observed in plants in June and July this year but no one cared initially as the farmers were unfamiliar with it.

A team of scientists in September had confirmed Phytoplasma which is a systemic disease and remains in the system of the cherry plants for lifelong and no chemical is fully effective against it. Recently the horticulture department convened a meeting to find ways and means to deal with the disease.

It is a rare disease in cherry which cannot be eradicated completely. She said that the spread of disease is very fast through vector (hopper) and no chemical is fully effective against it. As per the study the hopper has the capability to spread the disease within a radius of 4000 meter per year and if not controlled can destroy entire cherry growing areas of Baghi, Thanedar and Narkanda in next 5 years which is pegged at Rs 200 crore, therefore this situation is alarming.

To chalk out a strategy to deal with the disease, a meeting was held on November 16 in Shimla that was chaired by Director (Horticulture) R K Pruthi. During the meeting, Sher Singh Shobta a cherry farmer from Baghi area of Shimla district said that Phytoplasma was first notice in June-July this year and no one cared about it then as farmers were not familiar with the disease. He said that in August he had brought the matter into the notice of concerned authorities.

Senior Scientist, Plant Pathology (RHR&TS-Mashobra) Usha Sharma said that in September a team of scientists had visited the Baghi area and samples were collected from infected orchard and tests confirmed the Phytoplasma bacteria. She said that earlier Phytoplasma was reported in peach plants in Rajgarh area of Sirmaur district.

She said that a team of scientists from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) have also visited Baghi and their report about the diagnosis of cherry disease is still awaited. She said that for the exact confirmation of the Phytoplasma species, the DNA testing is in progress.

In the meeting a decision has been taken that entire cherry growing region including Thanedar, Baghi and Narkanda would be mapped in three categories (Red, Yellow and Green zone). Based on severity of infection of disease, Red zone will be where more than 80% plants have died, Yellow zone will be where more than 60% plants have died while Green zone will be where no infection has been found.

Top stories on inkl right now
Related Stories
Bird flu driving up turkey prices
The highly contagious avian flu is spreading through domesticated and wild flocks — and it is deadly
From analysis to the latest developments in health, read the most diverse news in one place.
Texans affected by pollution from concrete plants push state agency to tighten regulations
As the state’s environmental agency weighs new pollution limits on the plants, several lawmakers have filed bills that would put new restrictions on the facilities, which spew pollutants into mostly low-income neighborhoods.
Hybrid tree wrongly sold as 'sterile' highlights potential wildings solution
A hybrid pine variety in huge demand has been labelled sterile and unable to spread without any evidence to support the claim.
How Indian farming can reap more than it sows
India lags in crop yield, which not only impacts farmer incomes but also leads to inefficient use of water and land.
Sudan experiences worst dengue fever outbreak for more than a decade
Floods caused by warming temperatures and a lack of preventive care are driving the spread of the disease in a country racked with political and economic upheaval
One place to find news on any topic, from hundreds of sites.
South Korea has almost zero food waste. Here’s what the US can learn
In the US, most food waste ends up in landfills while South Korea recycles close to 100% annually, and its model could illustrates some core principles