More than 60,000 high-density apple plantation material imported from Italy under the World Bank-funded Rs 1,143-crore horticulture development project for distribution among the farmers have dried up and become unfit for use by farmers who wanted to replace low-yield fruit varieties with the new high-density apple plants.
The material was procured by the state’s horticulture department a few months back. Approximately 1.39 lakh saplings were imported from Italy and sent to Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticture and Forestry for mandatory quarantine to check if the plants were not infected with any disease.
However, within a fortnight, the plants dried up. “The material was brought to the university by the department’s officials only this month. We gave them space for necessary testing. But the plants, it seems, dried up even before being brought to the campus from the cold storage at Baddi in Solan district,” said Dr H C Sharma, the university’s vice-chancellor.
Minister for Horticulture Mahinder Singh Thakur on Friday made a surprise visit to the university and found that not only the sapling planted in the farm for quarantine purposes had dried up, but also the stock kept for further testing in the farms.