Tamil Nadu

1.2 lakh hectares of farmland protected from Fall Armyworm

Nearly 1.2 lakh hectares in the State have been covered against the menace of the Fall Armyworm, an invasive pest that mainly damages maize.

Last year, around 2.2 lakh hectares, accounting for about 60% of maize cultivation, were affected by the infestation. This year, the situation is under control due to a number of steps taken by the Agriculture Department, and the infestation has been restricted to a mere 1,027 ha, a senior official says.

Among the districts that reported the Fall Armyworm problem this year are Perambalur, Virudhunagar, Salem, Tirunelveli, Erode, Dindigul and Tiruchi.

Though the incidence is much lower, the department has taken steps for carrying out two rounds of spraying of plant protection chemicals and bio-pesticides.

Against the original target of 86,565 ha, as many as 1,19,486 ha have been covered till now. The final tally of coverage is likely to go up, depending upon the situation, the official says, adding that ₹47.66 crore has been sanctioned for the spraying operation.

Normally, the State raises maize in about three lakh hectares. Last year’s figure was about 3.5 lakh ha, and the same has been proposed for this year as well. During 2017-18, it was 3.25 lakh ha. The production two years ago was nearly 26 lakh tonnes, with a yield of approximately eight tonnes per ha.

Last year, other southern States like Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh had also endured the Fall Armyworm menace in a big way. In view of the seriousness of the problem in Tamil Nadu last year, the government had earmarked ₹186.25 crore towards compensation. Affected farmers from Salem district had approached the Madras High Court which, in July this year, directed the government to complete the disbursal of compensation in four weeks.

As for the steps taken this year, the State government had informed the Assembly that integrated pest management strategies had been formulated, taking guidance and assistance from scientists of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and experts of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra of the Union government.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 10:16:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/12-lakh-hectares-of-farmland-protected-from-fall-armyworm/article30100783.ece

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