Mizoram government has informed the Centre about an estimated crop loss of Rs 20 crore caused by an outbreak of the ‘Fall armyworm’ (FAW) in the state, a minister said on Tuesday.

The outbreak caused by Spodoptera Frugiperda, an insect, has affected maize cultivation in 1,747.9 hectares in 122 villages, state Agriculture minister C Lalrinsanga said.

The state government has constituted a Rapid Response Team to monitor the outbreak and take measures to mitigate the loss of crops, he said.

Meanwhile, state Agriculture Department Director Rohmingthanga Colney said that chemical pesticides and organic ones were being used to kill the worm in maize fields.

“Concerted efforts are being made to contain the outbreak which was first detected in Lunglei district on March 8,” Colney said.

After receiving warning from the Centre, the state Agriculture department had sent warnings to all the District Agriculture Officers on February 27 last on the possibility of incidence of FAW in the state.

The FAW outbreak was reported in neighbouring Bangladesh and Myanmar early this year.

Agriculture experts said that the FAW is a lepidopteran pest feeding on multiple plants (polyphagous).

Being a nocturnal pest, the FAW hides under maize leaves at day time and is difficult to detect.