Madurai

Fall Armyworm attack panics farmers

Fall Armyworm attacked maize crop at Mallayapuram near Sempatti in Dindigul district on Sunday.

Fall Armyworm attacked maize crop at Mallayapuram near Sempatti in Dindigul district on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: G_KARTHIKEYAN

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At least one in 10 crops is affected by the pest in Athoor Union

In the villages of S. Paraipatti, Mallaiyapuram, Seevalsaragu, Vakkampatti, Akkaraipatti and Vannampatti in Athoor Union, farmers have started to panic as instances of Fall Armyworm (FAW) have been reported from maize fields.

Maize is the major crop in this region and it is cultivated on about 20,000 hectares to 26,000 hectares in the whole of Dindigul district, as it not water intensive and a short-term crop. However, since the past few months farmers have been complaining of FAW attacks on well-grown crops, because of which farmers face a possibility of losses.

“At least one in 10 crops is affected by the pest. The attack becomes visible only after the crop reaches a height of five to six feet. The proliferation of the pest also seems faster, as more number of crops are getting damaged every month. If left unchecked, about 50% of the yield will be spoilt,” said Fathima Rajarathnam, a farmer from Athoor union, where the crop has been cultivated on about 500 acres.

“This is the season when the crop matures and bears fruit and is crucial for a good harvest. Maize is a rain-fed crop and the profit margin is also slender. The loss incurred from the pest attack may add more burden,” he said.

He added that the pesticides are not helping to mitigate the attack. “Even if we use pesticide in large quantities and as suggested by the Agriculture department, the worms seem resistant to it. The damage is not controlled by pesticide. The officials should take necessary steps and visit the affected farms,” he said.

“We are taking stock of the damage block-wise starting from Thoppampatti, Oddanchatram and Athoor. We will soon be taking steps to spray pesticide through either drones or machines, so that the central placenta and stem are exposed to the pesticide. The worm cannot be killed if the pesticide is sprayed on the outer steam and leaves of the plant,” said an officer from the Agriculture Department.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 7:31:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/fall-armyworm-attack-panics-farmers/article30069360.ece

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