CHENNAI: Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has written to his counterparts in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka for initiating coordinated and simultaneous action to contain the spread of Fall Armyworm, an invasive pest from United States that wrecked havoc on maize crops last year.
As many States have been affected by this pest, Palaniswami has written to the Centre asking it to declare the attacks as national disaster. He has sought Central assistance of Rs 194.7 crore as special case, to undertake mass ground spraying of key bio-pesticides and chemicals in the entire area under maize cultivation in 17 districts that was affected last year.
In a recent meeting, the Chief Minister directed the agriculture department to undertake mass spraying of bio-pesticides. Based on the letter, the Union Agriculture Ministry convened a meeting last week in Delhi, that was attended by representatives from all affected by the pest -- Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. Accepting TN’s suggestion, the ministry directed the affected States to embark on a coordinated mission in dealing with the pest.
“Of the 3.52 lakh hectares in 17 districts where maize was cultivated last year, 2.30 lakh hectares were affected by the Fall Armyworm and Rs 186 crore was paid as compensation to farmers who had cultivated maize. But this year, due to concerted efforts and new technological interventions, the spread of this worm has been controlled from the beginning,” officials told Express.
This year, so far maize has been cultivated in 1.3 lakh hectares. Of this, only 830 hectares, less than one per cent of total cultivated area, were affected due to multi-pronged approach to control this pest. In anticipation of funds from the Centre, in the first phase,TN government has initiated a mass ground spraying twice for 86,656 hectare of standing crop, at a cost of `47.66 crore,” sources said.
One of the major steps taken was summer ploughing of over three lakh hectares meant for maize cultivation. Due to this, the pupa of the worm which remains under the soil, gets exposed to sunlight and die. Birds eat these worms. This way, the worm has been controlled to a maximum extent. In the last phase, neem cake is applied. When it is at the younger stage, neem-based spray is applied.
Assistance sought for bio-pesticides/chemicals
Azadirachtin: Rs 53 crore
Metarhizium Anisopliae, Chlorantraniliprole and Thiamethoxam: Rs 106.20 crore
Spraying and other contingencies: Rs 35.40 crore.
Compensation for kin of policemen
Chennai: Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Saturday granted a financial assistance of Rs 3 lakh to each of the families of 25 police personnel who lost their lives in various accidents in the recent past. He conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families.
Edappadi orders release of water
Chennai: Accepting the requests of farmers, CM Edappadi K Palaniswami on Saturday ordered release of water for irrigation from Vaigai dam from October 9. It will continue for 120 days. This would benefit 1.05 lakh acres in Madurai, Dindigul and Sivaganga districts.