Farmers from Athoor block on Monday met the Collector on the issue of fall armyworm attack on maize and sugarcane crops in the district.
Athoor Farmers Association president Fathima Rajarathinam of N. Panjampatti said the pest had affected over 50 acres in the block. “The attack has impacted more than 350 acres in the entire district. Production in the kharif season has suffered because of this.”
Displaying a maize plant affected by the worm, Mr. Rajarathinam said the pest ate through the main stem, making it hollow from inside. “I took a loan of ₹60,000 from the bank and spent ₹50,000 on controlling the pest. I lodged a complaint with officials of the agriculture department earlier and they visited the affected farms. But they are yet to take any action,” he claimed. “I tried spraying pesticides suggested by the officials but only 50% of the pest has been killed.”
Since the pest attacked the main shoot of the plant, the department should use drones to spray pesticides from top of the plant so that it reached the shoot. “The maize crops in my field are over 12 feet in height and we are unable to reach the top of the plant through manual spraying of pesticides. Since, the rabi season is approaching, officials should find a solution before that,” he said.
Vijayarani, Assistant Director, Agriculture department said notices were being distributed to farmers to create awareness of the pest. “We are also visiting the affected areas accompanied by scientists from Maize Research Station in Vagarai, Palani,” she pointed out.
“The research is going on. So far, we have suggested compulsory summer ploughing so that the worms inside the soil come out which can then be killed by pesticides. Further steps will be taken to combat the pest attack before the next sowing season,” she added.