Aizawl, June 7 (IANS) The Mizoram government is continuing the battle against the Fall Armyworm (FAW), an insect indigenous to the Americas, which has caused an estimated loss of Rs 20 crore to the maize crop in over 332 villages in the northeastern state, officials said on Friday.
Mountainous Mizoram is one of the top producers of maize in India. In 2017-18, the state produced about 9,470 metric tonnes of maize in around 6000 hectares of land.
“FAW has so far affected 2894 hectares of the 4599 hectares of land under maize cultivation in 332 villages across all eight districts of the state,” a senior official of Mizoram’s Agriculture Department said.
He added that the Mizoram government has informed the Centre about the loss.
“FAW was detected last year in several states prompting the Centre to alert state governments of possible insect attack. The state’s agriculture department immediately warned all its district offices and special squads were set up in all eight districts even before the constitution of a Rapid Response Team in April,” Agriculture Department Director Rohmingthanga Colney told the media.
“Under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, the Central government helped the state. The Central Integrated Pest Management Centre is also working in consultation with the Central government’s Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage,” Colney said.
“Our officials are working round-the-clock with the maize cultivators to deal with the situation arising from the FAW hit.”
Colney said that a series of meetings were held between Chief Minister Zoramthanga and Agriculture Minister C. Lalrinsanga over the outbreak and to find ways to deal with it.
“The department has advised maize farmers to avoid large-scale use of chemical pesticides which are not recommended by the agriculture experts and also to carefully follow instructions for mixing and using them,” the Agriculture Department official said in his statement.
“The insect can attack a wide range of crops including rice, sugarcane and vegetables. The occurrence of FAW attack is severe and can multiply within no time,” an agriculture department official of the Arunachal Pradesh government said.
Mizoram shares borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar, where the FAW outbreak was reported early this year.
In Arunachal Pradesh, a FAW attack on standing crops was reported from some parts of the state. A report from the College of Horticulture and Forestry in East Siang District said that the highly invasive pest has been found in maize on its campus.