BHAWANIPATNA: If the erratic monsoon was not enough, farmers of Kalahandi are now faced with a more disastrous proposition as the dreaded Fall Army Worms (FAWs) are threatening to attack standing maize crops in the district. The pest, which was witnessed in some states for the first time last year, has been detected in Odisha for the first time. The FAW is considered a major threat to the agriculture sector for the fact that it feeds on multiple crops.
FAW having scientific name of Spodoptera Frugiperda primarily feeds on maize, but can consume rice, cotton, sugarcane and some vegetables. At the larvae stage, the worm causes damage to crops, feeding on more than 80 plant species. After developing into moth, it can fly upto 100 km in a night. The pest was spotted in maize fields in Kaichuan muaza of Narla block two days back.
On Friday, pest agronomist and field staff of Agriculture Department visited the village to ascertain crop damage caused by the FAW. Agronomist in the office of Deputy Director, Agriculture, Janakiballav Mohapatra said after detection of FAW, a farmers’ awareness drive has been taken up under which, 50 village agriculture workers (VAWs) from each block would be trained on containing the pest from August 4 to 7.
The VAWs would then train farmers on the application of pesticides and traps. Mohapatra said the farmers would be provided Pheromone traps at the subsidised rate of `100 and bio-agent of Trichogramma species will be supplied to 85,000 farmers across the district. Pheromones is a natural compound that is created in the body of the worm and insects use it to communicate with each other.
‘Dangerous’ FAW spotted
This compound will be used to lure the insects into a sticky trap. Similarly, bio-agent of Trichogramma species will be provided to farmers in the shape of Trichocard. These cards contain eggs of parasitoids that can destroy FAW eggs and prevent the pest from spreading, Mohapatra said and added that the field staff of the department have been asked to also ascertain if the pest has spread to other parts of the district.