Invasive thrips caused 80% damage to chilli crops, Rajya Sabha told

Thrips Parvispinus, an invasive pest species, might have dominated or even replaced the native chilli thrips known as scirtothrips dorsalis, the Rajya Sabha was told on Friday.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

HYDERABAD: Thrips Parvispinus, an invasive pest species, might have dominated or even replaced the native chilli thrips known as scirtothrips dorsalis, the Rajya Sabha was told on Friday. The change in weather and climatic conditions during the crop season might have favoured the establishment of thrips parvispinus, resulting in a sudden upsurge in the chilli ecosystem. According to a study, 40 to 80 per cent of the damage to chilli crop in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is due to thrips.

Replying to a question by GVL Narasimha Rao on the damage to chilli crop in AP and Telangana due to the South East Asian thrips pest outbreak, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that an expert team comprising experts from the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage (DPPQS), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), State Agricultural / Horticultural University and State Horticulture departments conducted a joint survey in the two Telugu States and found that on average, 40-80 per cent damage to chilli crop was caused in both the States.

“Since Thrips parvispinus is an invasive pest species, it might have dominated/replaced the native chilli thrips, Scirtothrips dorsalis through competition. The change in weather/climatic conditions during the crop season might have favoured the establishment of T. parvispinus and thus resulted in a sudden upsurge in the chilli ecosystem. Absence of natural enemies of this particular invasive pest in the area of invasion for natural control of the pest species and excessive use of chemical pesticides and staggered plantings also might be the reasons for their outbreak. All these factors might have triggered the upsurge of T. parvispinus in the chilli ecosystem by replacing the native chilli thrips species,” the Union Agriculture Minister said.

Tomar said that policy interventions include pest survey and monitoring at the district level, restoration of soil fertility in all chilli growing fields, regular monitoring of the quality of pesticides including making available microbial and botanical pesticides to the farmers were made. He stated the use of chemical fertilisers was being restricted on chilli crop. The action plan includes promotion of cultural practices like deep summer ploughing, intercropping, clean cultivation, balanced use of fertilisers, uprooting and destruction of plant debris and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for pest control.

The Union Minister said that South-East Asian Thrip is a polyphagous pest, which can also grow and multiply on alternate hosts like drumstick, pigeon pea, chickpea, papaya, mango and weed species like Parthenium, Cleome viscosa, Prosopis sp., Lantana camera, Calotropis sp., Tecoma sp. and wild solanum plants.Besides, strict plant quarantine measures were in place for imported planting materials. Plants and seeds that require post-entry quarantine were regulated as per Plant Quarantine (PQ) Order 2003.

‘Farmers left the fields unattended’

Union Agriculture Minister said that most of the farmers had left the fields unattended due to severe incidence of thrips and other pests, which had been observed as the source of inoculum for spreading of thrips and other pathogens to the healthy fields in the nearby vicinity.

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