After floods, Assam farmers under attack from swarming caterpillars

Guwahati, Sep 12 (IANS) After devastating floods, the farmers of Assam are now facing another threat to their paddy crops.

Swarming caterpillars or armyworms have attacked thousands of hectares of standing crops in at least ten districts of Assam worrying the farmers, who are now desperately waiting for the intervention of the state government to deal with the situation.

According to the estimate of the Assam Agriculture Department, a total 17,418 hectares of crop land in ten districts have come under the attack of armyworms.

Farmers are affected in districts like Golaghat, Dibrugarh Sivsagar, Jorhat, Majuli, North Lakhimpur, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Nalbari and Dhubri. The effect is more in Golaghat district where 6,671 hectares of cropland came under attack from armyworms.

“The attack of armyworms or swarming caterpillars has taken an epidemic form. We are concerned. We have taken the matter seriously and our officers are already in the fields taking stock of the situation,” said Assam Agriculture Minister Atul Bora while speaking to reporters on Monday.

“I have spoken to the scientists in Assam Agricultural University (AAU) in Jorhat on the matter and they said that the attack can be contained. The department is going to procure the medicines required to spray in the affected fields and help the farmers,” said Bora.

He said a similar problem was faced by farmers in Assam in 1967. “In 1967 the same situation took place as swarming caterpillars destroyed thousands of hectares of cropland in the state. This normally happens sometimes after prolonged floods,” he said adding that in the last few years there have not been any major attacks by these caterpillars.

The floods this year have affected 2,17,414 hectares of the state’s total 26 lakh hectares of agricultural land and damaged standing crops.

The Assam Agriculture Department has estimated the total damage due to floods this year at Rs 193.06 crore and submitted a memorandum about it to the central government.

–IANS

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