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India: Banana aphids hit plantations, prices soar

The banana plantations in the coastal region has been hit by banana aphids, a pest, and this has reduced the yield and raised the price. The banana aphids are the vectors of Banana Bunchy Top Virus. They are rampant in Beltangady, Puttur and Sullia taluks.

These aphids acquire and transmit the virus when they feed on the infected banana cells. Owing to the disease, the price of banana has hit the roof. Kadali variety of banana is priced at an ever high of `65 per kg.

Generally, the price of Mysore banana is below `20 per kg. Now, it has now touched `32 per kg. Nendra is priced at `44 kg. The price of Cavendish has reached `20. It is generally below `12 per kg in the city.

The flow of banana from Tiptur, Chikmagalur and Shimoga has declined due to aphids.

As there is a huge demand for Tiptur banana in Mumbai, a huge portion of the yield is sent to Mumbai. Merchants in Central Market suspect this to be the reason for the reduced flow of banana to Mangalore.

As aphids destroy the plantain leaves, there is a shortage of leaves too. The leaves are generally priced at `120 per 100.

Ganesh Kumar, a banana merchant in Central Market, said the current price is `300 for 100 plantain leaves. “As the supply of plantain leaves from Puttur, Udupi and Sullia taluk has stopped, the prices during Deepavali may go up to `400 per 100 leaves,” he said.

Janardhana Gowda of Parla in Puttur taluk said banana cultivation had been severely hit in the recent years. “Due to monkey menace that was rampant in the region, we did not get the expected yield. But this year, banana cultivation has been hit by aphids. We are forced to buy bananas from the market at a higher price,” he said.

The owner of IMK, a wholesale dealer of banana in Central Market, said due to the banana aphids, there is a mismatch between supply and demand. The same situation will prevail for the next few months as the crops have already been damaged, he said.

Horticulture Department officials have directed the farmers to consult the Agriculture Science Centre and taluk office of the department to get tips on preventing the disease.

Source: newindianexpress.com

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