The infestation of the crop pest has covered 227 villages in all the eight districts of Mizoram Credit: File image

Aizawl: At least 5,636 families have been affected and maize cultivation in 2,189 hectares of land damaged due to the outbreak of fall armyworms in Mizoram, state agriculture director Rohmingthanga Colney said on Wednesday.

However, the effort made by the state government to contain the outbreak has begun to bear fruit. Colney said that the infestation of the crop pest has covered 227 villages in all the eight districts.

With 2,504 families being affected, Lunglei district in southern part of the state, where the pest was first discovered in March, is the worst hit, followed by Serchhip district. The state government had informed the Centre about an estimated crop loss of more than Rs 20 crore caused by the fall armyworm infestation.

Colney said that the state government is making concerted efforts with the local farmers to contain the outbreak. He said that a Rapid Response Team has been constituted to monitor the outbreak and take measures to mitigate the loss of crops.

Meanwhile, state agriculture minister C Lalrinsanga said that the efforts made by the government to contain the infestation caused by an insect called Spodoptera Frugiperda has began to yield positive result.

Also Read: Fall Armyworm creates havoc among Mizoram farmers, 80 villages hit

He said that the state government had sent warnings to all district agriculture officers after it received warning from the Centre in February. “Our officers have visited the affected villages and distributed pesticides, insecticides, sprayers and even maize seeds to the affected maize farmers,” he said.

Expressing hope that the outbreak could be contained, the minister also called upon farmers to make massive efforts to mitigate the loss.

Sources said that there was fear among farmers about possible rerun of “mautam” famine-like situation the tribal state had experienced 60 years ago due to the outbreak of fall armyworms.

According to officials of agriculture department, the state government has not implemented crop insurance scheme for farmers, who constituted more than 70 per cent of the state population.

They said that the state government was not in a position of extending crop insurance to farmers because no companies were willing to sign agreement with the government.

On February 13, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) which envisages a uniform premium of only 2 per cent to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.

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