IMPHAL, Aug 20: A mysterious disease is wiping out almost all the population of orange trees in the largest orange producing district of Tamenglong.
The disease is showing similar symptoms that caused the drying up of ‘Yongchak’ (tree bean). It has been reported that the tree initially starts to dry up from top and later gradually the whole tree is consumed.
While talking to mediapersons, orange farmers of the district disclosed that the mysterious disease was detected in 2005 in the initial stage. Subsequently the farmers claimed that they approached the concerned SDO Nungba and DC Tamenglong.
Although experts paid a visit following complaints, to their dismay they did not take serious note of the situation and instead blamed the farmers for the situation.
The sources said that the most affected parts are in the Nungba sub-division which is also the highest orange producing sub-division in the district.
About 10 villages which include Soubunglong, Thangal, Nakaolong, Nungnang, Charoi Tupul and Sangji are the highest orange producing villages in the sub-division. Altogether there are about 1000 households which are involved in farming oragnes here and every household produces about 5000 fruits which is also the main source of income for the families. The farmers revealed that they earn about Rs. 60,000 minimum every season and a maximum of Rs. 1.5 lakhs.
Further, they revealed that besides oranges, ‘Yongchak’ was also another main source of income, but with the dying of the trees, orange remains the only main source of income for them. Now the villagers are struggling to manage with Umorok as the last alternative. Nevertheless transportation is also another concern as they could not supply the Umorok fresh in the main market of Imphal.
The disease is reportedly continuing to spread extensively. The disease is also witnessed at the upper part of Tamenglong Tamei sub-division. Owing to the dying out of the orange trees, unlike past years the annual “Orange Festival” which is also part of the tourism festival of Manipur, will see less participation of farmers and reduced numbers of oranges.
In the meantime, the officials of the Horticulture department have distributed relevant materials to the farmers for rejuvenating their orchards besides giving training today at Mantripukhri under the Technology Mission.
During the programme the department distributed 50 numbers of small and 50 numbers of big plastic crates, 25 numbers of canopy tools, 30 numbers of Rocker sprayer and 50 numbers of Vermibed.
While speaking on the occasion, K. Moses Chalai, IAS, Commissioner of Horticulture and Soil conservation, highlighted the need for introducing the new technology mission. The department will create a platform for interaction between the farmers and the experts by selecting a farmer each from every village who will be trained and later dispatched to his particular village for grassroots training among themselves.
The commissioners disclosed that improper medication without the consent of experts and lack of caring are also a factor for the dying out of the orange trees. The commissioner further assured to establish a farm demonstration centre in each district.
Another expert said that the main factor was that they are unable to save the plants due to old age of the orchards. The orange growers do not want to destroy the old orchards even though the productivity and fruit and size have been reduced to a large extent.
He said that the department under the Technology Mission has given various incentives like planting materials for 700 hectares under the expansion plan and many rejuvenation items like dolomite powder, bone meal, rich focus, rich kelwin, Rutter AA and many plant nutrients for maintenance of the crop for development of the Tamenglong orange during 2009-2010.