Fall Armyworm attack leaves Virudhunagar maize farmers in a lurch

Farmers say that maize raised on 1,200 acres could potentially be lost due to the pest attack

November 23, 2020 04:24 pm | Updated 04:24 pm IST - Virudhunagar

Virudhunagar MP, B. Manickam Tagore, inspecting a pest-affected maize farm near Virudhunagar on Monday

Virudhunagar MP, B. Manickam Tagore, inspecting a pest-affected maize farm near Virudhunagar on Monday

An attack of Fall Armyworm on several acres of maize grown in the district has rendered over 80 days of hard work and huge investments on farm inputs, a wasteful exercise for hundreds of farmers.

“I have lost the crop raised on 25 acres of land,” said A. Subbaraj (59) of Veerachellaiahpuram. Like several others, he too had started sowing maize as early as September after the first showers of the season on the rain-fed region.

Even as the crops started growing at first, without any pest attack, the sharp showers for more than a week during Deepavali kept the farmers away from their farms. “It was during this time that pests started attacking,” said another farmer V. Srinivasan (69). He has raised maize on four acres of land. “We have spent at least ₹24,000 per acre from ploughing to pesticide and from seeds to weeding. Now, it looks like we have lost the entire crop,” he said.

Farmers fear that maize raised on 1,200 acres in the village will have to be only burnt as even cattle will not feed on it. “The irony is that we will have to spend at least another ₹5,000 on hiring harvesting machinery,” Mr. Srinivasan said.

MP visits

Meanwhile, Virudhunagar MP, B. Manickam Tagore, visited the village on Monday to inspect the pest attack. “Farmers have said that they need full compensation for the crop loss,” said Mr. Tagore. Despite good rainfall, the farmers have lost the entire crop.

As farmers complained that while some of them had got as much as ₹15,700 compensation per acre and others received amounts as low as ₹1,800 in the past, he wanted the government to give ₹20,000 as compensation per acre. The MP has promised to take up the issue with the officials to ensure that all the farmers got full compensation.

Stating that over 60,000 acres of maize crop has been lost in Madurai and Virudhunagar districts, Mr. Tagore wanted the officials to inspect the fields to know the gravity of the crop loss.

Crop insurance

Meanwhile, the Virudhunagar district administration has issued notification asking farmers to pay ₹262 per acre as premium for crop insurance for the maize. The officials say that only the crop raised in October (as per the adangal, record issued by the Village Administration Officer) would be eligible for crop insurance.

Mr. Subbaraj said he feared that at least 500 acres of maize would become ineligible for compensation under the crop insurance scheme. However, allying his fear, a senior official from Department of Agriculture, said that district Collector, R. Kannan, has instructed the revenue officials to ensure that all farmers become eligible for the compensation.

The last date for paying insurance premiums for maize is December 21.

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