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India: Bacterial blight affects pomegranate quality up to 70%

Pomegranates in Maharashtra have been affected by bacterial blight (oily spot) disease this season, causing damage to the fruit’s quality by up to 70% in the state.

As a result, prices have been impacted by 30% compared to the previous season, Prabhakar Chandane, chairman, Maharashtra Pomegranate Growers Research Association, said. Prices of the fruit are Rs 40-50 per kg for the domestic market and Rs 70-80 per kg for export markets, he said.

While meagre exports to West Asia continue, farmers are finding it difficult to meet the requirement of residue- free fruit for European markets, Chandane pointed out.

For last 2 to 3 years, pomegranate crop has been badly affected by bacterial blight disease on large scale where the spots are initially black and round and surrounded by bacterial ooze. The disease may cause up to 90% yield reduction.

According to Chandane, the crop has been affected in Nashik, Indapur and some regions of Marathwada.

Pomegranate is mostly grown in semi-arid tehsils of Solapur, Sangli, Satara, Ahmednagar, Pune and Nashik districts. Maharashtra contributes 90% of the country’s total pomegranate production.

Chandane says the association has this time sought the assistance of the Mahatma Phule Krishi University in the state and scientists of the university have given the association an assurance that the help is on hand. A bio-technologist will be provided to the association to offer guidance to farmers and the next meeting will be held on August 7, he said.

Besides, the association has decided to form a research team with the university on how to control the disease. Last year in Indapur region near Pune, the crop was affected by oily spot disease causing a loss of R100 crore to farmers.

According to Chandane, some 20 containers are going to West Asia every week, but no fruit is available for European markets. Maharashtra exported a record 40,000 tonne of pomegranates in 2014-15 season, up nearly 33% compared to the previous season.


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