Agri Business

ICAR meet to discuss Fall armyworm menace

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on September 04, 2019

Fall armyworms can fly very fast over long distances and can cause extensive damage   -  S_HARPALSINGH

With reports of Fall armyworm (FAW) infestation keeping farmers worried in different States, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has asked States to improve capabilities of their agricultural departments to identify the problem and initiate mitigation measures.

Meet in Delhi

“We have convened a meeting with representatives of international agencies in Delhi that are already working on the issue in Africa. Taking their inputs, we have developed a strategy on how to tackle the issue,” Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (Union Ministry of Agriculture), and Director-General of ICAR, has said.

“We have sent the States the details of the strategy and advisory on how to tackle this pest,” he said. “Since it is a new pest, natural enemies such as Beauveria (fungus) have already started working in controlling FAW. We have also identified 6-7 chemical pesticides that can be used.”

Keeping tabs

“We have decided to go for large-scale monitoring and surveillance. We have asked the States to monitor the situation closely as the pest can fly very fast to long distances and can cause extensive damage. Unless we know where it is and how it is spreading, it will be tough to keep tabs on it,” he added.

Mohapatra was here in connection the Foundation Day celebrations of National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), an ICAR organisation, on Sunday.

On HT Bt (herbicide tolerant) cotton, he warned the farmers not go for the untested seed. “It has not been given permission. It has not been tested. If they grow something that is not tested and later found to be unsuitable for them, they will be in trouble,” he said.

Straw burning issue

Mohapatra claimed that efforts by the ICAR resulted in the reduction of at least 40-50 per cent in the amount of straw burned in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

“Machinery is being used to shred the straw that can be ploughed back into the soil, enriching it,” he said.

Pink bollworm

He said farmers in Gujarat had succeeded in controlling the pink bollworm using NPM (non-pesticide management) methods in the last season. “In Maharashtra, there were implementation problems last year. Otherwise, it was largely managed well,” he said.

Read: NGOs caution Govt prescription for Fall Armyworm disastrous

The ICAR DG launched a new edition of Agri Udaan, a food and agribusiness start-up accelerator. Launched in 2015 at the NAARM, the accelerator handholds agricultural start-ups.

Of the 20 start-ups selected for the maiden accelerator, three got funding to the tune of ₹3 crore. In the second edition started in 2017 with the support of Department of Science and Technology, Yes Bank and Marico, 40 start-ups were mentored.

Start-up funding

“Of them 10 were selected for a cohort and four start-ups got funding to the tune of ₹6.25 crore,” a NAARM executive said. For the third edition, the institute roped in Nabard, Caspain, AgrInnovate and Omnivore to support the start-ups.

Mohapatra said the start-ups should focus on developing quality products and services.

Published on September 04, 2019

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