GUWAHATI, July 29 - Nearly 60 per cent of the muga seeds reared at the Sericulture Department’s Khanapara farm have been damaged due to frequent fluctuation of temperature.
The silkworms were infested by a disease called ‘flacherie’ due to the extreme heat and frequent fluctuation in temperatures because of intermittent rains, Sericulture Director Mukta Nath Saikia told The Assam Tribune.
The damage was first reported about a week back and it is still continuing. Reports of similar damage to seeds were also received by the sericulture directorate from some farms in the plain belts of Golaghat.
Around 1.4 kg of seeds were being reared this season at the Khanapara farm. “The seeds had started hatching on July 15. The larva was entering the second molting phase when they were infested. At this stage, the larva is very vulnerable. Once they are infested, their colour changes and eventually they die,” Saikia said.
Samples of the infected larva have been sent to the Central Silk Board for further tests.
There has been no report of the disease from farms on the foothill areas of Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland where the temperatures were not so extreme. But floods have reportedly damaged ‘som’ trees in many plantations at Majuli, Lakhimpur and Morigaon districts. A detail survey of the damage is being conducted by the government.
However, the silver lining is that the affected crop is a seed crop and not commercial. Thus, it is unlikely to have any bearing on muga production this year.
Last year, heavy damage was reported in a commercial muga crop in October-November, resulting in a decline in production. Raw silk production last year was 114.6 metric tonnes.
“So far this year, the production has been better. We are targeting around 160 metric tonnes this year,” the director said.