'Poor quality seedlings stymying crop growth'

Failure to implement legislation hurting farmers

'Poor quality seedlings stymying  crop growth'

Poor quality seedlings and lack of monitoring of nurseries selling seedlings of fruits and vegetables to farmers are the main reasons why horticulture farmers in the State are losing out on their crop yield, said Dr M Krishna Reddy, Principal Scientist, Plant Pathology, Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR).

In an interaction with mediapersons on Friday, the scientist said their laboratory received 100-150 seedling samples a month, of which a large percentage was affected with soil pathogens.

“Farmers cannot discern diseased seedlings from the healthy ones at the time of purchase. It is only after a few years, when plants grow, they start developing diseases, which ultimately results in crop loss,” he said.

Another major reason is the absence of enforcement of the Seed and Nurseries Registration Act, which has been implemented in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The Act helps in monitoring nurseries and nurserymen and ensures quality check on horticulture seedlings before they are cultivated.

But sources in the Horticulture Department say there is absolutely no monitoring on the number of nurseries functioning in the State.

There are over 5,000 nurserymen selling all kinds of seedlings (including diseased) to farmers at a high rate. With no quality check on the pathogen content in seedlings, many a time, farmers are cheated, sources said.

In Karnataka, seedlings of mango, guava, banana, citrus, acid lime, sweet orange and pomegranate are sold to farmers without quality check. Poor quality pomegranate seedlings are also a reason why farmers are losing out on their yield this year.

Speaking to reporters, Dr N K Krishna Kumar, Deputy Director General (Horticulture), agreed that lack of quality seedlings and the absence of quality check were affecting the pomegranate yield in the State. He said IIHR can share the findings of the research and make necessary suggestions. However, the institution cannot ask the State government to implement the Seed and Nurseries Registration Act.

Registration holders’ duty
 
If the State government enforces the said Act, then there is a list of duties for registration holders of Horticulture Nursery, such as keeping a complete record of the origin or source of every planting material, and performance record of mother trees in nursery; keeping a layout plan showing the position of root-stocks and scions used in raising horticulture plants; keeping nursery plants as well as parent trees used for production or propagation of horticulture plants free from infectious or contagious insects, pests or diseases affecting plants; and furnishing such information to the State government on production, stocks, sales and prices of planting material in the nursery, as may be prescribed.

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