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Downy Mildew Devastates Onion Crops in Upper Dir

Farmers are advised to avoid using diseased onion seeds, and if possible, to consider planting onions in a different location with new seeds in the future.
by TNN Editor - 18 Jul, 2023 1681
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Nasar Zada

In Upper Dir, farmers have suffered significant losses as thousands of onions were damaged by an outbreak of downy mildew, resulting in a loss of lakhs of rupees.

Mohammad Shahzad, a farmer from Ushirai Dara, has been cultivating onions for two decades. Normally, his land yields 60 to 70 maunds of onions each year, but this year he was only able to harvest 27 maunds of clean onions, while the rest were spoiled due to the disease.

Shahzad had invested Rs 14,000 in purchasing seeds and fertilizers in March, but despite spending an additional Rs 6,000 on fertilizers and medicines, he could only salvage a small portion of his crop. The remaining onions had to be discarded due to their deteriorated condition.

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Gul Nawab, another onion farmer from Jabr, is also facing difficulties in finding buyers for his ready crop. Traders are hesitant to purchase onions affected by the disease, leaving Nawab worried about the fate of his crop. If a buyer is not found soon, he fears suffering significant financial losses.

The areas of Darora, Katan Jabr, Tarpatar, Bewar, Sahibabad, Charkoom, and Wari in the Larjam Tehsil of Upper Dir are known for their suitable conditions for onion cultivation. According to the Agriculture Department of Upper Dir, onion cultivation covers approximately 4,285 acres of land in the region.

Agriculture Officer Parvez Khan explained that farmers in Upper Dir typically grow Swat One onion or Tirichmeer seed, which is well-suited to the region.

Parvez Khan further explained that this year, the onion crop has been attacked by downy mildew due to the abundant rainfall and moisture in the air. The prolonged cold period in Upper Dir, lasting until the end of May, further exacerbated the disease, resulting in severe damage to the ready crop.

Farmers are advised to avoid using diseased onion seeds, and if possible, to consider planting onions in a different location with new seeds in the future.

Agronomist Osama, an agriculture officer in Larjam Upper Dir, emphasized that onion crops worldwide are susceptible to various diseases, including a dangerous fungal disease that has caused significant losses to farmers in Upper Dir this year.

Osama highlighted the efforts of the Agriculture Department to raise awareness among farmers. They have initiated awareness campaigns and seminars in various villages to educate landlords and farmers about these types of diseases and their prevention methods for future crops. The department aims to equip farmers with the necessary knowledge and resources to protect their crops and minimize potential losses in the future.