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Organic method to combat Fall armyworm under trial

A maize farmer looking at his damaged crop. – Correspondent
 AIZAWL, May 19 - Mizoram University’s research wing is experimenting on organic methods to control Fall Armyworms that have attacked maize farms in over 90 villages in Mizoram since last month.

The research wing observed that chemical sprays contaminate the environment and cause major health risks to humans, livestock and biodiversity especially the non-targeted organisms.

“Chemical pesticides can damage soil microbes and kill many living organisms thereby posing threat to ecological balance,” said a member of the research wing.

Besides, most of the pesticides available in the market are not effective against the pest because they will kill the larvae and leave the eggs, which later hatch and continue damaging the maize. This is one reason why the pest is very difficult to control.

This is when the research wing came up with the organic method to combat the invading Fall Armyworms.

They are trying an organic soil amendment fertiliser produced by VB-AGRI company based in Haulawng in Lunglei district to combat the pest. The organic fertiliser was produced by a local scientist Ramdinmawia.

Recently, the research wing tried the organic fertiliser on some maize plants and found that it acted as repellants. It would take some more days to see how effective the product would be to fight the pest, they said.

As VB-Agri product is bio-organic and not harmful to human beings and animals. Being a deodoriser and decomposer, it does not damage soil microbes. “If it can effectively fight fall armyworm, it would be highly preferable than chemical methods,” they said.

The Mizoram Government’s Department of Agriculture is also keeping a close watch on the situation and has sounded the high alert about Fall Armyworms (FAW).

State Agriculture Minister said rapid response force has been set up in all the eight districts of Mizoram. Lunglei district, being the worst-hit, has seven rapid response teams. “Almost all staff of the department in this district are involved in the fight against FAW,” he said.

He added that damage report has been sent to the Central Government.

“We are doing all the needful for rehabilitation of the affected farmers. We may not be able to compensate all their loss, but we will mitigate their loss,” he said.

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