AIZAWL, April 24 - An outbreak of the fall armyworm has been reported from some districts in Mizoram where the never-seen-before worms attacked crops like maize, paddy, sugarcane and soyabean, officials said.
The officials said that this is the first time that the fall armyworms have attacked plants in Mizoram. The worms, about 3.40 centimetres in length, have attacked over 80 different plants and vegetables, mainly maize.
Joint teams of the Agriculture Technology Management Authority and District Agriculture Office on Tuesday organised on-the-spot training and demonstration on how to prevent the worm attacks for maize farmers in Aizawl district whose crops have been attacked by the worms. The training was simultaneously organised in Sesawng, Kelsih and Maubawk villages.
State agriculture experts have consulted scientists in the ICAR-Indian Institute of Maize Research. Based on the scientists’ instructions, the experts used pesticides and distributed leaflets to the farmers.
Mizoram became the latest State in India to report infestation of the fall armyworm.
In just nine months since the worm was spotted in India in Karnataka last June, it has invaded crops in more than 10 States. As if taking a pre-scripted route, the worm infestation has spread from Karnataka to all southern States, then to western Maharashtra and Gujarat and now to the eastern Indian States.
Other than fast advancement, the pest is also attacking new crops. In Lunglei district in southern Mizoram, the pests attacked tomatoes grown in greenhouses.
Though it is being detected mostly in maize crops, a preliminary calculation estimates that it has affected nearly 1,70,000 hectares of maize crops – there have also been reports from States where it has infested paddy, sugarcane and sweetcorn.
Experts said that the worm was found in the Americas since 100 years and had spread to other continents, including African countries where it ravaged maize fields in 2016.
Food and Agriculture Organisation has regarded the worm as a danger to global food security.
Officials said that the worm was detected in at least 10 States in India with the worst-hit States – Maharashtra, Kerala, Chandigarh and Gujarat – losing maize yields.