Collector calls for coordinated action to prevent Fall Armyworm attack this year

Published - July 30, 2019 06:41 pm IST - TIRUCHI

Fall armyworm, the invasive pest that caused extensive damage in maize crop in the district last year, could affect other crops too. Hence, it was essential that all farmers took coordinated action and follow the advisory issued by agricultural scientists to prevent the pest attack this year, Collector S.Sivarasu observed here on Tuesday.

Inaugurating a farmers meet jointly hosted by Agricultural Technology Management Agency, Department of Agriculture and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University here, Mr. Sivarasu pointed out that the pest could spread rapidly from one field to other. The pest attacked not only maize but other crops too. “Hence, it is important to check the outbreak and spread of the pest. The cooperation of every farmer was essential to check the pest attack. Even if one failed to adopt the guidelines, it will be difficult to control the pest,” he said pointing out that agricultural scientists had come out with advisories on the ways to prevent the pest attack.

The government was also providing subsidy for inputs, he added.

The meet was organised ahead of the forthcoming cultivation season in the district. Last year, the new pest, which was previously found in African countries, spread rapidly and caused extensive damage in all maize growing districts in the State.

Maize is cultivated on about 3.5 lakh hectares in Tamil Nadu.

In Tiruchi district, the crop on over 12,000 hectares of the total 15,745 hectares, was badly damaged in the pest attack. The government has since sanctioned ₹8.69 crore to be disbursed as compensation to 16,182 affected farmers in the district.

Controlling fall armyworm is extremely difficult due to its quick reproduction with short life cycle, huge egg mass and the larvae residing inside the cob and leaf whorl make, officials say. Moreover, the adult moth travels up to 480 km on a single night.

Though it is known to be a pest on maize crop, it also affects paddy, cholam, millets, sugarcane, vegetables and cotton, damaging the crops extensively. So, appropriate control measures have to be taken on war footing to prevent crop damage, Agriculture department officials said.

The meeting was organised to educate farmers on identifying the pest, its lifecycle and preventive and control measures. Scientists from Krishi Vigyan Kendras and TNAU elaborated on various aspects of the pest attack and control measures.

An exhibition, which included live specimens of fall armyworm in all its stages and biological control agents, were organised as part of the meet. Over 250 farmers covering all maize growing areas of the district participated in the meeting.

Joint Director of Agriculture R.Santhanakrishnan and others spoke.

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