BHUBANESWAR: Even as the State Government is in the eye of storm for allegedly failing to intervene and control the pest menace in time, authorities of Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) suspected that the pests that damaged crops in around 1.8 lakh hectares in Odisha might have developed resistance against some pesticides.
Talking to mediapersons, OUAT Vice-Chancellor Prof Surendranath Pasupalak said farmers suffered a huge loss as, it appears, Brown Plant Hopper (BPH) developed resistance against imidacloprid, which is a systemic insecticide that acts as an insect neurotoxin.
“Farmers generally apply imidacloprid, which did not work this time. Other insecticides were washed away in rain that continued for several days last month. We also suspect resurgence of BPH due to regular use of one pesticide though we always advice farmers to alternate the pesticides. Further research is on to identify reasons for which the pests developed resistance,” said Prof Pasupalak.
Though 10 to 15 insects are usually sighted on one hill at a time during such crisis, this time more than 100 insects were spotted on one plant, the agro scientist said citing too much multiplication of the pests due to untimely rain. “One way the rain favoured the insects to multiply, on the other hand it did not allow farmers to apply insecticides or washed away those were applied leading to the large scale loss of crops,” he said. The university has issued a list of six other insecticides for the next rabi and kharif seasons. Farmers have been advised to apply dichlorvos 76 per cent EC, flonicamid 50 pc WG, dinotefuran 20 pc SG, pymetrozine 50 pc WG, buprofezin 25 pc SC and fipronil 5 pc SC on their crops.
Though Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout denied to have received any advisory on the possible pest attacks in different parts of the State, Pasupalak claimed they had informed the Department on October 3 and issued a bulletin next day. “It was not once, but the agriculture bulletin was repeated thrice last month advising farmers to take care of their crops that were staring at pest attacks due to untimely rain,” he said.
Supporting All India Agricultural Students’ Association (AIASA), which has demanded agriculture graduates to be given licence to deal with the trade of agro input and output, the OUAT VC has recommended the State Government to make similar provisions for agriculture diploma holders in Odisha so that they can provide right suggestions and come to the rescue of farmers at the time of need.
On use of fake or substandard insecticides, he said, samples have been collected from several areas and sent to laboratory for tests, reports of which are awaited.
New pest-resistant paddy variety developed
Bhubaneswar: Perturbed over pest attacks, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) is mulling to encourage farmers to opt for cultivation of new varieties of paddy which have developed resistance against insects. The agriculture university had released seven varieties of paddy - Tanmayee, Hiranmayee, Jyotirmayee, Nua Acharmati, Asutosh, Gobinda and Hasanta which are under various stages of notification by the State Government.OUAT Vice-Chancellor Prof Surendranath Pasupalak said the Hasanta variety, which was cultivated by two farmers in Chikiti and Digapahandi areas in Ganjam district, seems to have developed resistance against BPH. “Though other paddy varieties cultivated in lands close to Hastanta have been damaged by pest attacks, this new variety is left unharmed. We are collecting data on it. After one more test production, we would advice farmers to go for it instead of Swarna and other varieties,” he said. Not only Hasanta, four other high yielding varieties of paddy cultivated by Subrat Adikary of Chikiti Pentha have been untouched by the pests.Released by the agro scientists in 2014, Hasanta is a high-yielding paddy variety that can be harvested in 145 days. Though it has not been notified by the Government, Prof Pasupalak said, this paddy could be prescribed to farmers along with these four varieties so that they can be protected from huge crop loss.