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Pesticides are being distributed to maize cultivators across the state to control the infestation of fall armyworms
Pesticides are being distributed to maize cultivators across the state to control the infestation of fall armyworms|File image
MIZORAM

Mizoram govt continues to battle fall armyworm menace

The crop pest has already caused extensive damage to maize cultivation; state govt is taking massive efforts to check and mitigate the outbreak

Henry L Khojol

Aizawl: Continuing its battle with the menace of fall armyworms which have already caused extensive damaged to maize cultivation in the state, the Mizoram government is taking massive efforts to check and mitigate damages caused by the pest attack.

The state agricultural department is working round the clock by opening offices even on holidays to cater the needs of farmers.

Pesticides are being distributed to maize cultivators across the state and efforts are being made to educate farmers on how to use pesticides in effective manner, officials of agricultural department said on Sunday.

They said that the state government had immediately warned all agricultural offices in all the eight districts to prepare for possible outbreak of fall armyworms when it was detected in several states last year.

According to officials, fall armyworms were first detected in south Mizoram’s Lunglei district on April 8 and soon spread in the entire state.

The government took instant measures to tackle the situation by constituting a state-level rapid response team on April 24. The rapid response team is taking all possible steps to monitor, check and mitigate damages caused by the outbreak.

The state’s Central Integrated Pest Management Centre (CIPM) is also working in consultation with the directorate of plant protection quarantine & storage (DPPQ&S) under the Centre.

Meanwhile, agriculture director Rohmingthanga Colney said the sudden rise in temperature could be the reason of the rapid outbreak the pest. He expressed hope that the rainfall experienced by the state two-three days ago would help check the rapid outbreak of the pest.

He said that scientists from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) visited the state and held meeting with officials recently.

“With the knowledge they gained from ICAR scientists, the state government is hopeful to check the rapid spread of the pest outbreak as proper measures have been laid unlike it was in the initial stage,” Colney said.

The state agriculture department is taking steps to increase maize production despite the infestation of fall armyworm, he said.

The production of maize in the State was 8,911 metric tonnes in 5,779 hectares in 2016-17, while it was 9,470.6 MT in 5,979.2 hectares in 2017-18, according to officials.

The agricultural department also advised maize farmers to avoid using chemical pesticides which are not recommended by the agriculture experts and also to strictly follow instructions for their usage.

The outbreak of fall armyworm has damaged maize cultivation in more than 2000 hectares of lands to the tune of Rs 7.65 crore.