A vector-transmitted pathogen has already rendered a large volume of Indian citrus non-marketable. The Nagpur orange crop has taken a major hit this winter. Almost 72,000 hectares from a total area of 600,000 hectares under Nagpur orange cultivation in the Vidarbha belt, have been hit by a disease that is spreading further. Some are blaming it on the paucity of water.
The Orange Growers' Association of India (OGAI) said the supply of the winter oranges into the market has dipped by over 30% to 40% due to a disease called citrus greening (Huanglongbing, HLB). It is caused by a vector-transmitted pathogen and has already rendered a large volume of the citrus fruit non-marketable.
Totey, the executive president of OGAI, said the disease has affected vast stretches especially in areas like Paratwada, Anjangaon and Chandur Baazar in Amravati. "Nearly 30% or 40% of the produce here succumbed to HLB. The disease's spread may have something to do with the water paucity and drought-like condition. Since orange is a juicy fruit, an orange plant needs almost 60-80 litre water every day. However, so much water was not available to many farmers this year. We are getting reports of the disease spreading," said Totey.
Pramod Wasankar, an orange grower from Achalpur, Amravati, said because of HLB, the orange supply during the August-January period has dropped by 40%. "Though production was good, a bulk of the produce got infected," he said. "Not only did it rain less, but excessive load-shedding in our area also worsened the water paucity situation. August also had intense sunshine during the afternoons, which caused the fruits to weaken and drop," added Gopal Khalokar, another orange grower.
Fruit retailers said since the supplies of Nagpur oranges to the markets were less, the prices were higher than usual.