As the deadly fall armyworm (spodoptera frugiperda) has been wreaking havoc in maize farms, the Department of Agriculture and Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) has sensitised the stakeholders, mainly farmers to be wary of the deadly worms.
Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao, who inaugurated a ‘Workshop on management of fall armyworms in maize crops’ here on Friday asked farmers to strictly follow the elements of ‘integrated pest management module’ developed by the Centre for Plant Protection studies and Department of Entomology, TNAU, to protect maize crops from fall armyworm.
As the worms had hit maize crops in Kamuthi block after invading the district for the first time last year, he said the worms had destroyed crops cultivated in 1,487 hectares in Kamuthi and Kadaladi blocks and asked the farmers to be doubly cautious when they take up cultivation during the Karif season this year.
Pointing that only management of the worms was possible, he said farmers should take the advice from Agriculture department officials in their regions and follow their instructions. The district administration would support them, he said and added that steps were being taken to award compensation of ₹74.77 lakh to the affected farmers in the two blocks.
Prof. K. Prabakaran, Director, Centre for Plant Protection studies and Prof. N. Sathiah, Head of Entomology department, TNAU, said the deadly insect had invaded Karnataka in May 2018 and Karur, the very next month. There was an imperative need for managing the ‘trans boundary insect’ to save maize crops in the State, officials said.
An average of 7.5 tonnes of maize was cultivated per hectare in the State and insects have posed serious threat to production. As the crop was highly remunerative and 70% of the total production went as food item, the farmers cultivate maize.
Officials have been sensitising farmers and other stakeholders throughout the State. They have met 10,000 farmers, 2,000 officials and 2,000 agro input dealers during the sensitisation programme, Mr. Sathiah said. Prof. N. Muthukrishnan, Prof. J. Ramkumar, Department of Entomology, TNAU, Mr. S. S. Shaiek Abdullah, Personal Assistant to Collector (Agriculture) and Prof. S. Kavitha from Krishi Vigyan Kendra were present.