No sooner did the threat of deficit rainfall ended than the farmers in Kalahandi district face caterpillar menace in paddy cultivation.
The incidence of swarming caterpillar pest was reported in the paddy fields of 10 blocks in Kalahandi district, according to an assessment of Agriculture Department. A total of 2,095 hectares of paddy fields in the district are now infested with swarming caterpillars, the reports said. Unofficial figures, though, are much higher.
In Bhawanipatna, Madanpur-Rampur, Junagarh, Kesinga, Narla, Dharamgarh and Karlamunda blocks, the intensity of pest infection is high, according to the assessment.
“Mostly due to cloudy weather for a long period and flash flood, pest infection occurred in paddy cultivation in Kalahandi,” a senior officer of the Agriculture Department said.
To combat the infection 1,000 litres of liquid pesticide (Nurocombi) and 9,500 kg of pest control dust (Chloropyriphos) had been supplied to the affected blocks by the Department in two phases. “The small and marginal farmers could avail of the pesticide on subsidy,” Deputy Director of Agriculture Amereswar Mishra said.
The department has also made an arrangement for further stocking of pesticides in the affected blocks, he said, adding that field functionaries have been directed to assist farmers and in case of exigency take up mass spraying in the infested areas.
Balangir: Not just paddy, pests have damaged cotton, pulses and other crops in Belpara, Kharakhol, Deogaon, Saintala, Agalpur and Punitala blocks of Balangir district.
In the kharif season, it was resolved to undertake cultivation in over 3,45,475 hectares (ha). Paddy cultivation was taken up in 1,87,00 ha while the rest was targeted for cotton, maize, pulses and oil seeds.
While deficit rainfall affected the crops, overcast conditions for several days together, untimely rain coupled with water-logging due to low pressure triggered rain has aggravated the pest attack leaving the farmers worried.
Water from the river Ong flooded agricultural lands in villages of Nagaon, Kanthipali, Telenpali, Ckaabhata, Lathisar in Agalpur block besides villages of Matiabhata and Bender gram panchayats in Khaprakhol block and Badbanki, Kandei and Ghunesh gram panchayats of Turekela blocks.
As per preliminary reports, around 40 per cent of the total cultivated land has been affected in the pest attack.