M. Bevinahalli, Muniyur, Srirampura, Gottikere Pura facing the brunt of it

A perennial weed, called the western ragweed, has been growing rampantly in four villages of Turuvekere taluk, Tumkur district, and farmers see it as a threat to their agricultural produce.

Called locally as the “ketta dawana”, the weed has been found in M. Bevinahalli, Muniyur, Srirampura and Gottikere Pura villages in around 300 acres of land — among crops and in coconut and arecanut plantations. The weed is depleting nutrients, moisture and minerals in soil. Farmers say this has decreased yield by more than 35 per cent. Farmers have tried different methods to control the rampaging weed, but to no effect. Yathiraju S. of M. Bevinahalli told The Hindu, “There is no grass for my cattle to graze and coconuts are sparse.”Puttaswamy L. from Muniyur, said: “I have spent thousands of rupees on pesticides, but I cannot destroy the weed or control its growth.” So he has left his field fallow. Lavakumar M.R. from the same village said that though he had set fire to the weed, it kept growing back. He urged the government to intervene and help control the menace.

According to scientists, the weed will attain the status of Parthenium in due course and this requires the immediate attention of experts to control it. It will affect bio-diversity, fodder production, yield and crop quality severely. The scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Konehalli in Tiptur taluk and University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, are conducting research to root out the weed.

Programme coordinator of Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Konehalli, G.M. Sujith, said: “If the western ragweed is not controlled now, it will spread to larger areas and will adversely affect food production.” He urged the Ministry of Agriculture to declare the weed (Ambrosia psilostchya) as a “quarantine weed”, which would help in controlling it.

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