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Potato blight could cause low yield

Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan

Dense fog in winter has caused ‘late blight’ in potatoes, particularly in the northern districts, growers and agriculturists have said.
Potato plants, infected with the disease, would certainly yield less production, they said.
Department of Agriculture Extension officials said they were giving necessary advice to the potato growers to control late blight.
A senior DAE official told New Age that late blight was a common disease that affected potato and tomato plants in winter. Production of the crops could be lower than expected due to late blight, he said.
He, however, said DAE extension officers were advising the growers to contain late blight by using Bordeaux mixture type of fungicide.
Istiaq Ahmed, a farmer of Nilphamari sadar upazila, said that he had cultivated potato on his four bighas of land.  He was frustrated as potato plants on his land were turning grey because of late blight.
Due to low price at the grower level, he said that he would not be able to even recover the production cost this year.
He said the growers were forced to sell potato at Tk 3 per kilogram on local market – about half the production cost.
According to DAE field service wing, the growers have already cultivated potato in 4.40 lakh hectares of land with a target of 86.56 lakh tonnes for 2013-14 crop year.
According to DAE, potatoes were grown mainly in Rangpur, Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Bogra, Nilphamari, Munshiganj, Jessore and Kushtia.
When asked, Sher-e-Bangla Agriculture University agronomy professor Abdullahil Baqui told New Age on Thursday that late blight, a disease caused by a particular type of fungus, attack potato plants when the mercury drops significantly and there is less humidity in the air due to dense fog.
Timely use of fungicide could contain late blight, he said.
The growers who were supposed to harvest the crop in 60 days, kept potato in the land for 90 days this season because of transport crisis during the blockades and hartals.
He said that growers had started harvesting potatoes for sale after the blockade was withdrawn but were not getting fair price on the market.

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