L. Renganathan

Problem persists despite spraying of pesticides Over 5,000 farmers have taken up drumstick cultivation in the Aravakurichi and Pallappatti areas of Karur district from where lorry loads of drumstick pods are sent to various parts of State and outside

ARAVAKURICHI: A mysterious disease has spread uncontrollably in the vast drumstick gardens of Aravakurichi and Pallappatti areas where traditionally `moringa' cultivation has been taken up on a large scale. Farmers claim that while in the previous years, they were able to contain a similar worm disease, this time around the problem persists despite spraying of pesticides.

Over 5,000 farmers have taken up drumstick cultivation in the Aravakurichi and Pallappatti areas of Karur district from where lorry loads of drumstick pods are sent to various parts of the State and to destinations in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka during the peak season that is fast approaching.

The farmers resort to two varieties - the plant and the creeper variants. Many take to kitchen garden farming of drumstick in the area, generating a small yet sustained income from the dry land crop. In fact, the drumstick crop suits the arid lands of the Aravakurichi belt more than any other crop.

But this year, the mysterious worm disease that is creating havoc in the region is expected to cause a sharp downfall in drumstick production. "Small worms appear and spread all over the tree or creeper in four to five days if pesticide is not sprayed. They chew up tender pods and leaves. While in previous years we were able to control the disease, this year even repeated application of pesticide has not fetched the desired results and the production has been hit,'' says R. Nallasamy, a drumstick farmer from Ondhanpatti near Aravakurichi. The worm eats away buds, pods, flowers and leaves, he adds.

While many farmers have refrained from using the regular pesticide this year, some are toying with the idea of taking resort to alternative pesticide application as the regular insecticide has failed to control the worms.

Coming as it does right at the beginning of the season, the drumstick farmers feel that the mysterious disease would sharply bring down production this year and might cause rise in price of the available produce.

The quirk of fate for the drumstick growers is that while extreme water scarcity and arid conditions affect production every year, this time around when enough water is there in every well in the area, the mysterious disease has come as a scourge.

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