PERAMBALUR: Having devoured crop on more than 30,000 hectares last year in Perambalur, Fall Armyworm, an invasive pest, has returned to haunt farmers again. In a first sighting of the year, the pest attack has been spotted in maize crops on more than 100 hectares in Veppanthattai, Alathur, Kunnam and Perambalur.
Despite taking efforts from the farmers and agriculture department to prevent the spread of the Fall Armyworms, the pest has managed to start their damage in the Perambalur district. The farmers claim the first instance of Fall Armyworms presence was seen two days ago.
“Two days ago, we saw small worms in our fields. We tried to contain it by spraying chemicals to kill its spread, but over the course of two days, the pest has taken almost 100 hectares of maize lands as its prey”, complained, A Dhanapal, farmer from Veppanthatta.
He further said, “ Last year I lost three acres of my maize fields. I was hoping to have a good harvest this year, but now with the attack of worms, my chances of getting a marginal harvest has itself reduced drastically”, added Dhanapal.
Last year, the fall army worms damaged more than 31000 hectares of maize cultivation which was planted in 60000 hectares. And this year maize has been cultivated in 50000 hectares in the Perambalur district.
Incidentally, even few farmers risked on the maize crop as the district witnessed lesser rainfall than average. “I have been planting cotton for several years and decided on maize this year as we had an very average rainfall. But now this pest attack, we are left in middle not knowing what to do”, said Ilayaraj, a farmer.
Few farmers even complaint that the agriculture department is yet to conduct inspection of the farm lands despite knowing about the attack. “ I have personally made several complaints to the agricultural department, but the officials are yet to visit my lands and offer some advice. I have invested more than Rs 25000 on the crops and we hope we could retain at least a marginal share of it. We request the agricultural department to immediate inspect the lands”, added Illayaraja.
A Ganesan, Joint Director of Agriculture, Perambalur district, he said, “ At present, we have information that fall army worm has attacked 100 hectares of land in initial stages. We are inspecting the farmlands and we will make sure the spread of the invasive pest can be controlled as much as possible.”