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Lakhimpur farmers worried over crop failure due to pest attack

 NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Sept 16 - Paddy fields across Lakhimpur district have been under attack by different types of pests and worms making thousands of farmers worried over a possible crop failure in the incoming harvest season.

 According to Lakhimpur District Agriculture department, 3,155 hectares of crop land in 198 villages have been affected by pest attack. The attack has left 14,063 farmers affected by the damage in their paddy plants.

Though the district had experienced a severe pest attack in the summer of 2016, it was only of one kind – attack by armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) and elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas). But this time pests like the white-backed plant hopper (Sogatella furcifera), brown plant hopper (Nilaparvata lugens), green leaf hopper (Cicadella viridis), spiny beetle or rice hispa (Dicladispa armigera) have been destroying paddy plants in Lakhimpur district.

Attacks by the armyworm were also reported from Bhati Medok, Bokum and Kangkan Chapori areas off Subansiri river in Dhakuakhana subdivision of the district in early August.

The spiny beetle or rice hispa, which leaves standing crops yellowish, was first reported in Laluk area of Lakhimpur district in August this year. The plants turned yellow like hay before the paddy could bloom leaving farmers, who were already hit hard by lockdown due to coronavirus, lose crops in several hectares.

Rice hispa, which is more abundant during sali and ahu seasons, is endemic in Lakhimpur district along with some other areas of Assam.

Agriculture experts have expressed concern that the yield of farmers, whose cultivation cycle was affected by COVID-19 restrictions, would be much lower this time due to these pest attacks in Lakhimpur.

The Lakhimpur District Agriculture Department has so far conducted pest control operations in 2,677 hectares of crop land.

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