Agri Business

Fall Armyworm attacks maize crop across Telangana

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on September 12, 2018 Published on September 12, 2018

The Fall Armyworm, a deadly pest, reportedly entered India from Africa   -  THE HINDU

Could infest cotton, sorghum, other crops too, say scientists

A fresh problem in the form of Fall Armyworm, or Spodoptera frugiperda, threatens farmers across the country this kharif season. Currently infesting the maize crop, agricultural scientists warn that this pest could soon spread and attack other crops, including cotton, sorghum, sugarcane, cabbage and soyabean.

This pest, which reportedly entered India from Africa, could result in huge economic losses if not attended to in time. “From Karnataka where it was reported first, it spread to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. It can infest 80-100 crops,” said an official from Andhra Pradesh.

India grows maize on about 9 million hectares, with a significant amount of the produce going into animal feed. Telangana is among the hardest hit, with the Fall Armyworm extensively affecting the maize crop in 17 out of 30 districts (excluding Hyderabad).

Each worm could lay 900-1,500 eggs. They attack leaves first — the damaged leaves look like they have been cut with scissors.

Scientists say Spodoptera frugiperda is not something completely new. “It has been around for quite some time. But the incidence has been extensive as the maize area has gone up significantly. Heavy rainfall in short intervals in several parts of the country provided the ground,” said GV Ramanjaneyulu, agricultural scientist and Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. “Unlike in the past, there are not many varieties now, with farmers going for machine-harvestable maize varieties,” he added.

He said there were several alternative management practices that can be deployed to get rid of the problem.

‘Bt Maize an answer’

“Fall Armyworm is a devastating pest. This can damage crops very heavily. This can also attack other crops like rice and cotton. Farmers, scientists and extension personnel have to be very alert to this new threat,” said Ram Kaundinya, Advisor to the Alliance for Agri Innovation, the association of agri-biotech companies.

He said Bt maize can offer a solution to the problem as it did in North and South America. “This is the right time for the Government to think of approving Bt Maize, which has been tested in the country, with regulatory data generated,” he said.

Ramanjaneyulu, however, said NPM (non-pesticide management) practices can be a good solution to tackle the problem.

“Introducing Bt maize won’t help. In fact, the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) sprays would help in tackling it. Managing it with chemicals will be very difficult. The government should have taken enough care, seeing the spread on the maize crop this time,” he said.

Published on September 12, 2018

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.