Farmers of 80 villages have been affected.

Aizawl: Mizoram, a highly agriculture depending state, has been presently invaded by “Fall Armyworm,” a dangerous crop damaging pest, creating fear among farmers, who constituted more than 70 per cent of the total population, possible rerun of “mautam” famine-like situation the tribal state had witnessed 60 years ago.

According to officials of state agriculture department, the outbreak of Fall Armyworm (FAW) has been reported in all the eight districts, affecting more than 80 villages.

This is the first time Mizoram has witnessed the attack on crops, mainly maize by the worms, measuring about 3.40 centimetres in length, they said.

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State’s agriculture director Rohmingthnaga Colney said that the outbreak of FAW was first reported on March 3 from Ngasih area in south Mizoram’s Lunglei district.

The infestation has soon spread in the entire state in less than a month, he said.

He said that at least 31 villages in Aizawl district, 10 each in Mamit, Serchhip and Lunglei districts, 6 in Champhai district, 5 in Kolsib district and 4 each in Siaha and Lawngtlai districts have been affected by the outbreak of FAW.

According to Colney, maize cultivation in 1409 hectares of land worth Rs 18.4 crore has been severely damaged by the infestation.

He said that joint teams of the Agriculture Technology Management Authority and District Agriculture Office have visited the affected villages, organized on-the-spot training and demonstration on how to prevent the worms and also distributed pesticides, insecticides and sprayers to the maize farmers, whose crops have been attacked by the worms.

He added that the infestation of the worms would be informed to the Centre and the state agriculture experts have also consulted scientists in the ICAR-Indian Institute of Maize Research.

Citing about the possible reason for the outbreak, Colney said it could be due to long dry spell and sudden rise in temperature.

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Normally, Mizoram witness rainfall in March but the state has seen long dry spell and sudden rise in temperature since few weeks. On 26 April, the state capital Aizawl experienced maximum temperature of 38.5 degree Celsius, the hottest day since temperatures are being recorded in the state in 1999.

Tlabung area in south Mizoram’s Lunglei district bordering Bangladesh on Saturday experienced maximum temperature of more than 40 degree Celsius.

Colney said that the state government has formed Rapid Response team to carry out survey and use insecticides to curb the infestation.

Mizoram became the latest state in India to report infestation of the FAW after it has been spotted in Karnataka in June last year. So far more than 10 states have been invaded by the infestation.

Colney said they received pre-warning about the possible outbreak of FAW from the Centre on February 27.

Mizoram had witnessed a plague of black rats due to large scale flowering of bamboos (mautam in Mizo parlance) between 1958 and 1959, that culminated into a separatist movement spearheaded by the erstwhile underground Mizo National Front (MNF) led by former state Chief Minister late Laldenga for 20 years during 1966 to 1986.

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