Deadly New Tiranga (Red) Virus in Tomato Crops, Maharashtra: Fact Check


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Deadly New Tiranga Virus in Tomato Crops of Maharashtra

Story:

New Version of Coronavirus – Deadly Tiranga/Red Virus Destroying Tomato Crops in Maharashtra.

Other Versions

करोना वायरस का नया वर्शन – टमाटर से टेंशन – तिरंगा (रेड) वायरस इन्फेक्शन

Fact Check:

Some messages spreading on social media and WhatsApp warn consumers of a Deadly New Version of Coronavirus – Tiranga or Red Virus Destroying Tomato Crops in Maharashtra. They claim the Tiranga or Red Virus disease can spread to humans through consumption of the tomatoes and is more dangerous than Coronavirus. The claims are mixture of hoax and facts explained here.

About the ‘Tiranga’ or ‘Red Virus’ in Tomato Crops

While India and most of the world is battling to contain the global pandemic, Coronavirus-hit Maharashtra is facing yet another issue. Several farmers have expressed the fears about a new virus damaging tomato crops. The new virus is changing the color and shape of tomatoes leading to early ripening and loss in their sap. Furthermore, the inside section of the tomatoes are turning black and spoiling.

Local farmers have reportedly given the name Tiranga virus because of the visible symptoms. The unidentified disease has destroyed about 60 per cent of the crop (thousands of acres) in Ahmednagar, Pune and Nashik districts of Maharashtra in early May 2020. The tomato crops have not responded to any known treatment, leading to huge financial losses to farmers.

Rabi or summer tomato growers from Maharashtra have reported the issue since April 2020. A local tomato farmer, Ramesh Vakle said ”The plant leaves are drying up fast and the tomatoes are developing irregular shapes and colour and ripening prematurely. The crop ready for harvesting has been lost to this unidentified disease. Due to this, we are not getting buyers for our tomatoes”.

Reason Behind the Damage of Tomato Crops in Maharashtra

The reports about the ‘Red’ virus in tomato crops of Maharashtra created fear because tomatoes are widely used across cuisines all over India. Some social media and local TV channels have linked the tomatoes issue to ongoing Coronavirus. They also reported the claims the Tiranga or Red virus can affect humans through tomato consumption and is more dangerous than Coronavirus. However, the tomato virus and its effects on human health are not known as of this writing.

On 13th May, TV9 Bharatvarsh also reported about the claims and fears about ‘Tiranga’ virus along with the farmers’ concerns. Later, they clarified the messages warning humans eating tomatoes will get Coronavirus or other deadly disease are baseless. They also told not to pay heed to the rumors on social media.

On the other hand, the depressed farmers in Maharashtra are blaming companies for allegedly selling diseased seeds. Ajit Navale, General Secretary (Maharashtra) of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said the seed companies have analyzed the samples, claiming the viral attack is not very significant. Consequently, the farmers requested government to advice on precautionary steps to control the virus attack and avoid spreading it to other crops.

The COVID-19 lockdown has affected the movement of farmers and scientists from various agricultural universities to identify the cause of disease. The state Agriculture Department of Maharashtra has sent samples of affected tomato plants to Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Horticulture Research. Experts are trying to identify the disease in tomato crops.

Hoax or Fact:

Mixture of Hoax and Facts.

References:

Coronavirus-hit Maharashtra’s farmers fear ‘Tiranga’ virus damaging tomato crop
‘Tiranga’ virus destroys 60 pc tomato crop in Maharashtra
Samples of affected tomato crop sent to Bengaluru to identify ‘unknown’ disease
Tiranga Virus! Maharashtra’s farmers fear new virus damaging tomato crop


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