Staff Reporter

Sankranti, Nandi and Vaibhav are resistant to leaf curl virus

Tomato crop is vulnerable to the leaf curl virus Virus-resistant varieties developed through farmer participatory breeding programme Quarantine cells planned to help manage diseases in crops

BANGALORE: The onset of summer means the tomato crop becomes vulnerable to the leaf curl virus, with its whitefly vector, Bemisia tabaci. Crop losses experienced by resource-poor farmers often touch the 100 per cent mark, affecting food security, nutrition and income.

But now there is hope for farmers who wish to grow tomatoes. Three varieties of tomato, Sankranti, Nandi and Vaibhav, developed by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, which were launched here on Monday, are resistant to the leaf curl virus.

They were developed through the farmer participatory breeding programme by the UAS in collaboration with the U.K.-based Natural Resources Institute and the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre, Taiwan.

At the training workshop on tackling tomato leaf curl disease and whitefly, which was inaugurated on Monday by John Colvin, project coordinator, University of Greenwich, U.K., Horticulture Minister R. Srinivas said farmers must adapt to new technologies and new crop varieties extensively, as it can help reduce the use of pesticides.

Mr. Srinivas said disease-hit crops have been the undoing of scores of farmers who can ill afford to lose crops after paying high costs for inputs.

He said that the UAS has also developed technologies that can help mitigate crop loss in susceptible varieties, and farmers should adopt what suits them best.

As Chairman of the State Horticulture Board, he is planning to set up quarantine cells wherever possible to help management diseases in crops.

He suggested that farmers should seriously consider manufacture of value-added products like jams and ketchup, for export as well as local markets which is also a clever way of striking a balance between times of glut and scarcity, so that prices do not rise to unmanageable levels.

Consultant professor V. Muniyappa said the three new varieties are high yielding and highly resistant to virus.