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Three Upazilas of Patuakhali: Mysterious disease wrecks watermelon dreams

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Thursday, March 21, 2013



Watermelon plants, attacked with an unknown disease, have been dying in the fields of three upazilas in Patuakhali. PHOTO: STAR



An unknown disease has wreaked havoc on watermelon fields in different places of KalaparaGolachipa and Rangabaliupazilas, much to the frustration of growers. According to Kalapara agriculture extension office sources, farmers cultivated watermelon on 3,585 hectares of land in Latachaplee, Lalua, Champapur, Devpur, Dhulashar and Dhankhali areas of the upazila this years, but the disease has already damaged plants over 2,000 hectares of land.


As the farmers in the upazila earned a good profit last year, they cultivated watermelon on 720 more hectares of land this year, sources said, adding that an unknown disease causes them to feel frustrated. ShahidMridha, a farmer of Devpur area, said the unknown disease has attacked watermelons on his 10 bighas of land and each watermelon weighing 400 to 500 is getting damaged.


“I had to spend Tk 50,000 to cultivate watermelon on 10 bighas of land with a hope to get around Tk 3 lakh by selling the summer fruit, but the disease has put an end to my dreams,” Shahid said.


The disease has also attacked plants on 10 bighas of land of SohelHowlader, 11 bighas of land of ToiyabHowlader, 12 bighas of land of NizamHowlader, 16 bighas of land of KamrulMollah, 16 bighas of land of DelwarMridha and three bighas of land of KhokonHowlader at the same village.


“Since agriculture staff are not giving advice, we have sprayed cicerone and theovit on the plants in our farmlands as per advice of local representatives of different medicine companies, but we see no positive results,” alleged farmers.


Contacted, upazila Agriculture Officer MdRezaulKarim said excessive use of fertiliser and insecticides in the watermelon fields might have caused damage to the plants. “We have asked the farmers to irrigate their fields to reduce harmful effects of insecticides and fartiliser on the plants. We have also advised them to use compost instead of chemical fertiliser, said the agriculture officer. Watermelon plants are also infected with the unknown disease in Galachipa and Rangabaliupazilas.


Around 6,000 farmers cultivated watermelon on 10,800 hectares of land in the two upazilas this year. But the disease has affected the plants on many farmlands. Md Nur Mohammad, a farmer of Poshurbunia village under Rangabaliupazila, said plants on his three acres of land are getting damaged.


Encouraged by last year’s profit, farmers in the upazila have brought more land under watermelon cultivation this year, but they have to incur a huge loss as the unknown disease is killing the plants, he added. Sanu Sharif, a farmer of Naluabagi village under galachipaupazila, said he is not getting any positive results by using insecticides on his watermelon field.


GolachipaUpazila Agriculture Officer MdFazlulHaque said he advised the farmers to use compost instead of urea or any other chemical fertiliser on their fields. ‘We are also giving advice to the farmers to set light traps on their fields at night to control pest attack,” he added.



Source: thedailystar








Rampant use of chemicals makes litchi poisonous

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Kongkon Karmakar, Dinajpur



Hardly aware of the detrimental effect on themselves and eventually the consumers, workers spray chemical insecticides at a litchi orchard at Madhabbati village in Biralupazila under Dinajpur district. PHOTO: STAR



Like other years, litchi gardens in the district famous for producing tasty varieties of the popular summer fruit sees large-scale use of pesticides and harmful chemicals. Growers apply the poisonous items to ensure smooth growth and good look of the juicy fruit, ignoring the health hazard to consumers.

In June last year, 14 children died as a consequence of eating litchi treated with extremely harmful chemicals in Dinajpur and Thakurgaon, said officials of civil surgeon’s offices in the two districts. That time a four-member team led by IEDCR’B Director Professor MahmudurRahman collected samples from the area and found evidence that poison from litchi killed those children. Later they sent the samples to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta of USA and the latter confirmed that the children suffered ‘unintentional pesticide infection’.

Family members of a few of the victims told this correspondent that they live near litchi orchards and the children ate the fruits that had fallen on the ground from the trees. There are nearly 3,000 commercial litchi orchards on nearly 2,000 hectares of land in different upazilas of Dinajpur, according to Dinajpur Horticulture Department.

Many large orchards are seen in Biral, DinajpurSadar, Chirirbandar and Khansamaupazilas. Bombay, Madraji, China and Bedana are some of the well-known varieties of litchi grown in Dinajpur. Botanical name of the fruit is litchi chinensis. It starts flowering late December or early January and ripens in May, said DAE officials and growers.

But uncontrolled spray of poisonous insecticides to save the flowers eventually poses health hazard to the consumers. During a visit to different orchards in DinajpurSadar, Khansama and Biralupazilas, this correspondent found that litchi growers are passing a busy time spraying pesticides to protect the trees from insects.

“From January the litchi trees need spraying of pesticides twice a month for their protection from insects. But the growers often use it more than required,” said Anwarul Islam of Madhabbati village under Biral upazila. Now litchi growers are purchasing huge pesticides and applying it to their gardens, said Rafiqul Amin, a pesticide trader of Rampur Bazar in Biralupazila. “Last year, I stopped eating litchi after noticing that the gardeners apply huge pesticides,” he added.

Officials of the Horticulture Department of Dinajpur sat with the litchi growers and discussed pesticide management, said MdMoududulHaq, deputy director the department. Dr Md Nurul Huda, deputy civil surgeon of Dinajpur, said an inter department meeting held at the deputy commissioner’s office recently decided to hold a meeting with the litchi growers over the issue.




Source: thedailyustar





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