KHAMMAM: The dreaded whitefly has been spreading like the wrath of God, devouring the oil palm and coconut plantations in Dammapet, Aswaraopet and Sattupalli mandals of the erstwhile Khammam district.
Crops in thousands of acres have been affected. According to officials, oil palm in 30,000 acre and coconut plantations in 4,000 acre are under attack. The whitefly which played havoc with plantations in East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, has crossed the borders and is now attacking crops in Telangana.
“The whitefly impact has been very severe. Yield would go down considerably. The whitefly which entered Telangana in the later part of last year has begun attacking the crops since then,” an official said.
The officials, however, cautioned the farmers against using chemicals. “They should use only biological control methods. If chemicals are used, they would kill insects that benefit the crops which leads to further damage to the crops,” they said.
This pest had entered India through Kerala and Tamil Nadu in 2016 from Brazil and Norway. Now it has entered Telangana from AP. Dammapet, Aswaraopet and Sattupalli mandals are in close proximity to East and West Godavari districts in AP which had made it easy for the whitefly to spread across Khammam district.
Farmers are worried about what lies in store for them as they had pinned hopes on the yield to see them through. According to Horticulture Officer Gudimalla Sandeep Kumar, the farmers should use neem oil and bio medicines to combat the whitefly. “We are distributing bio-medicine and neem oil to farmers free of cost and they can collect them from the coconut seed centre in Aswaraopet.”
Sandeep Kumar said whitefly should be tackled in a coordinated manner. “Isolated efforts would not help much as whitefly can easily spread from one place to another,” he said.