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India - Post-floods, pineapple farmers face crisis

Heavy rain, flooding have led to outbreak of plant diseases

After the floods, pineapple farmers in the district have been plunged into a crisis with outbreak of plant diseases.

Fungal diseases and rot are major problems on hand, said Baby John, a veteran farmer in Moovattupuzha, speaking about the losses sustained by farmers across the crop spectrum in the State.

Deformation

Though only about 5% of the plants went under water during severe flooding in August, about 50% of the fruits over the coming three months may be lost to diseases, he said. Besides loss of crop, deformation and stunted growth will lead to losses. Lack of proper growth will result in fruits being downgraded from A grade to B or C grades, he added.

A scientist at the Pineapple Research Station, Vazhakkulam, said that heavy rains and flooding had resulted in a serious problem of diseases among pineapple plants.

Accumulation of sludge

Former director of the Pineapple Research Station K.P. Kuriakose said pineapple farms might not sustain long-term damage. But heavy currents in flooded fields may have caused sludge to accumulate in the heart of the plants that may result in serious losses, he said.

Prajitha, a pineapple farmer with around two acres of cultivation under the Kudumbasree mission initiative in Kothamangalam, said that farmers like her were trying their best to retrieve as much plants as possible after the floods.

An estimated 40,000 acres are under pineapple farming in Kerala and there are around 4,000 to 5,000 farmers involved with the crop. Fruit from areas like Vazhakkulam is in much demand.

The Manjalloor, Avoli, Ayavana, Kalloorkkad and Arakkuzha panchayats near Vazhakkulam are famous for their pineapple farms. These areas experienced heavy rains and flooding during the month of August. Around 2,500 acres are under pineapple in Ernakulam district.

Source – https://www.thehindu.com

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