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Damage to peach crop in Swat likely   
By Sher Baz Khan 

Thousands 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 observes.

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.

Courtesy: The DAWN;

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