PESHAWAR : Fruit growers in Chamarkan valley of Chitral district are facing a predicament due to damage of their pomegranate orchids from a mysterious disease causing premature spurting of fruit and weakening of trees due to insect attacks. Located near Chitral city, Chamarkan valley is famous for its sweet pomegranates which not only attracts locals but also people from down country who come to Chitral these days for enjoying fruit feasts during its harvesting season starting in October. Almost each dweller of Chamarkan grows pomegranates, some in orchids and some in the lawns of their houses or on the embankments of fields. The pomegranate of the area is not only sweet, but it is also seedless which also enhances its quality and taste. A unique thing is also witnessed in the orchids is that in some cases two pomegranates and in some three are grown conjointly. In October, the main activity in Chamarkan is plucking of grown pomegranates by the locals and children enjoy on the spot eating.

The farmers tie their shirt at abdomen to make it a sack and gather all the plucked fruit in it after climbing the tree through stairs.

The locals also have a traditional technique of preserving the pomegranate for long time by keep it is a pit developed through excavation in their house. The fruit kept in such pits remain fresh for a long period, they claimed.

A visit to the area by APP correspondent in Chitral revealed that growers are very much concerned over mysterious disease in their fruit orchids.

Due to disease, the production of pomegranate is decreasing inflicting loss over the earnings of the orchid owners, besides affecting its taste and specialty.

The disease causes early spurting of the fruit before its maturity and damages the production. It also causes blighting of the fruit, they added.

When asked about response of agriculture department for containment of disease, they complained that agriculture department officials are not showing any concern over their request. So many times we visited agriculture department offices and found no concerned official present there to give us some advice or visit the area to diagnose the disease, they alleged.

The growers have requested the concerned officials including Agriculture Minister to take notice of the situation and direct officials for visiting the area to save sweet pomegranate of the Chamarkan valley from destruction.