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Fall armyworms
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MIZORAM

Mizoram: Over 8,900 families affected by fall armyworm outbreak

State agriculture department has inspected at least 4,599 hectares of land, of which the crop-damaging pests were detected in 2,840 hectares of land, said officials

Henry L Khojol

Aizawl: More than 8,900 families in 332 villages have been affected in Mizoram by the outbreak of fall armyworm (FAW), a crop-damaging pest, since it was first detected in early April, officials of the state agriculture department said on Monday.

Officials said that the infestation was contained in some areas due to the effort taken by the state government. They said that the state agriculture department has inspected at least 4,599 hectares of land, of which fall armyworms were detected in 2,840 hectares of land.

The FAW outbreak has affected the entire state. Lunglei district in the southern part of the state, where the pest attack was first reported, is the worst hit with at least 3,121 families have been affected, followed by Champhai district, where 1,438 families are reportedly affected by the infestation.

South Mizoram’s Siaha district is the least affected as the pest attack caused damage to maize cultivation of 375 families.

FAW was first detected on April 8 and the government took instant measure to tackle the situation by constituting a state level rapid response team on April 24 and distributing pesticides to farmers.

Scientists from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) had also visited the state and held meeting with officials. Joint director in the ministry of agriculture Dr N Sathynarayanan had last week paid a visit to Sailam village in Aizawl district, where 30 families are totally engaged in maize cultivation.

He said that the crop pests that ravaged entire Mizoram is one kind of FAW that attack only maize. He lauded the state government for taking massive effort to contain the outbreak.

State agriculture department officials said that the effort made by the state government has began to bear fruit as the FAW infestation is steadily receding and in some areas it has been fully controlled. They added that some farmers are believed to get the same harvest they had received in the previous years.

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