CHITRAL: A fungal disease has infected thousands of apricot trees in lower parts of Chitral, damaging the fruit in its early stage.
Riaz Ahmed, a farmer from Chitral town, said the fungal disease attacked hundreds of trees. He said the leaves had turned read with holes in them.
He said the disease had attacked the trees a month ago and was spreading fast from one tree to another.
The grower said the fungus was widespread this year unlike the previous years when it affected a few fruit trees. He said the solitary apricot trees were less affected compared to those in close proximity with each other.
The orchard owners were appalled by the situation as they derived a large source of their sustenance from selling the fruit in the market.
He said apricot was a popular fruit in Chitral and there was hardly any household where the tree was not grown.
He said the fruit was also stored by dehydrating it for consumption in winter. He said the dried apricot (locally called chamber) was marketed in large quantity.
When contacted, agriculture department deputy director Rafique Ahmed said the disease was caused by high rate of humidity in the area for a longer period of time due to frequent rainfall.
He said persistent rains over the last many months had provided congenial environment for the fungus to develop.
He asked the farmers to spray the unaffected trees with anti-fungus medicines, which were available with the agriculture department, so that spores from one tree to another could be contained as the disease had a high rate of transmission.