Armyworms damage crops planted in 17 hectares of land

Published On: October 23, 2019 11:32 AM NPT By: Republica

NEPALGUNJ, Oct 23: The outbreak of armyworms that started two weeks ago has damaged crops spread over 17 hectares of land in Banke.

According to Agriculture Knowledge Center Nepalgunj, of the total crops planted in 36,500 hectares of land, almost 47% has been affected by the pest.

The pest that was first seen in the crops in the first week of October has multiplied its presence, according to Sagar Dhakal, chief of the center. “We have been doing all sorts of things to control the pest but its presence has been increasing.”

Dhakal said that the pest has destroyed the crops that were ready to be harvested, and has posed threat to the ones that are growing. He said the center has been distributing pesticide to the affected farmers and has been disseminating information to save the crop from the pest. The center stated that the lack of pesticide has been a challenge to control the pest.

According to Dhakal, the center does not have sufficient budget to control the pest. The center has distributed pesticide worth Rs 50,000 to the farmers till now. These pesticides were ordered from a laboratory located at Khajura. The farmers have complained that the quantity was not enough. 

Dhakal added, “We are in no position to distribute pesticide as per farmers’ demand. We are trying to coordinate with the ministry and bring in more pesticide.”

The pest has affected farms at Baijapur of Raptisonari Rural Municipality, Binauna and Phattepur, Hiraminiya of Duduwa Rural Municipality, Holiya, Betahani, Puraina, and Puraini areas of Nepalgunj Sub Metropolitan City. Dhakal said that the outbreak of the pest has also reached Baijanath, Khajura and Janaki rural municipalities. Farmers are worried as there seems no way to contain the pest. The pest that comes in large numbers and attacks crops ‘like an army’, cuts the panicle off the crop.

As per farmers’ description, armyworms stay under the paddy plant during the day and starts cutting off the grain as the night approaches. The pest damages crops planted in hundreds of bighas of land in a single night.

Agricultural technicians have suggested farmers to spray the pesticide during night, paying attention to the quantity of the pesticide. But farmers say the pest does not die even after following the instruction while spraying the pesticide. Farmers are worried that the attack of the pest might result in reduced production of the crop.

Some farmers have started collecting grains from the field that have been cut off by the pest. They said collecting grains like that was a hard work as the grains have been mixed in earth.

Dhrubaraj Sharma, a farmer based in Duduwa Rural Municipality, said the pest has not come under control even after spraying the pesticide. He said the pest has destroyed crops planted in 3 bighas of land. “Instead of coming under control, the pest has increased in number,” Sharma told Republica. “We have given memoranda to government bodies such as the Agriculture Knowledge Center and the District Administration Office, but the problem remains as it is.”

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