Malda (WB), May 21 (PTI) Mango farmers in West Bengal's Malda district are a worried lot, as their orchards in several areas have come under pest attack.
Many of these farmers in the region -- known for its distinct variety of the summer fruit -- are also staring at losses amid the COVID-induced lockdown, with no means to export them, and lack of local buyers.
According to the deputy director of the district horticulture office, Krishnendu Nandan, a particular pest -- locally known as 'Suli poka' - had been harming the crops over the past three to four years.
'The pest lays eggs on the surface of mangoes, which are still small in size, and the larvae then enter the fruit, feed on the pulp and the seed,' he explained.
Around 10 to 50 per cent of the mango crop can be destroyed if the problem is contained at an appropriate time, Nandan pointed out.
He further said that farmers have asked to be on guard and take measures once the pest is spotted.
'All infected mangoes should be immediately picked and removed and the mango trees regularly sprayed with pesticides.
If necessary, the farmers can seek assistance from the horticulture department,' Nandan said.
Notably, a few days ago, farmers in Malda were hopeful of a bumper harvest this year owing to the clement weather and adequate rainfall.
Gour Ghosh, one of the farmers, said that he has been able to solve the pest problem to an extent by spraying pesticides from time to time.
Another farmer of the region, Arun Ghosh, however, alleged that the farmers, without any formal training arrangement or awareness generation by the government, often fail to tackle such issues.
Cultivated over 31,000 hectares of farmland in the district's eight blocks, the Malda variety of mango is exported to various parts of the country and abroad. PTI CORR SBN RMS RMS