Kapurthala (Punjab), May 20 : Farmers in Punjab's Kapurthala District are facing heavy losses as outbreak of viral disease has lead to large-scale damage of muskmelon crop.
Kapurthala is one of the largest producers of muskmelons in the state.
The viral disease has led not only to stunted growth of the muskmelons, but also rotting them on the field itself.
"I had cultivated muskmelons on an area of four acres and most of it has been destroyed due to the outbreak of a viral disease which has also hampered the growth of the melons and spoilt them," said Ranjeet Singh, a farmer.
The losses are so much that they have not been able to even recover their initial cost and now want the State Government to assist them financially.
"We purchased the seeds for about 8400 rupees, but we could not get any returns from this crop. Even if we offer the people the muskmelons free of cost, they are not ready to eat them, saying it is spoilt by virus. If people are not ready to eat it for free, then how can we expect to sell the crops in the market?" said Mansa Singh, another farmer.
According to the experts, the farmers have faced estimated losses worth about 500 million rupees due to the damage to the muskmelon crop.
"Thousands of hectares of area are under muskmelon cultivation in the region, out of which about 70-90 per cent of the cultivation is lost. So, if we calculate roughly even at 25,000 rupees loss per hectare, then according to the estimate, farmers in Kapurthala have faced a loss of roughly around 500 million rupees," said Manoj Sharma, Agriculture Expert.
Out of the damaged crop, the muskmelons that make it to the market have very less buyers, as people prefer to stay away from the muskmelons.
The farmers are now ploughing their fields to root out the infested crops and prepare the field for a new crop other than muskmelons.