Damage to peach crop in Swat
By Sher Baz Khan
of tons of peach crop is feared to be wasted in the Malakand
division this season again as mass exodus of people
continues from the area after the launch of military
operation ‘Rah-i-Haq-II’ for flashing out Taliban.
The Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Board
(PHD&B) has said that the peach crop is in full bloom in
Swat. But deteriorating law and order situation in Swat has
created a situation worse than last year when thousands of
tons of fruits, especially peach, were thrown by contractors
and growers due to weeks-long curfew.
The army has imposed curfew in Swat, Buner and Lower Dir,
and intermittently relaxes it for short intervals to allow
civilians to flee the conflict hit areas to Mardan district.
Most of the orchards thus remain unattended.
Witnesses told Dawn on Wednesday that curfew had been
clamped on all areas starting upwards from Shirgarh area of
Mardan to Malakand.
‘Most orchards have not been pruned yet, which is
one of the most important management practices for
peach,’ the PHD&B says.
But even before the start of the army operation,
rains had already damaged some of the peach crop.
Non-availability of fertiliser has also been a
problem for the area during the last few months.
‘It is expected that the crop situation will not be
satisfactory this year as peach leaf curl has also
been reported in some orchards [in Swat],’ the PHD&B
Peach leaf curl is one of the most damaging diseases
which has been caused by recent rains and unexpected
cold weather in Swat and surrounding areas. If not
properly controlled at appropriate time, the disease
is feared to damage the crop further as rains are
still expected in the area this month.