Arunachal sees multiple pest attacks

At least five types of pests have affected paddy in seven districts of State, say officials

Arunachal Pradesh is under multiple pest attack.

The State’s Agriculture Department has opted for a “chemical war” after at least five types of pests damaged “more than 50% paddy crops” across seven districts in the central Siang region and areas to the east.

Department director Anong Lego said pest attacks were reported a week ago and district officials instructed to procure pesticides and equipment to fight the pests and provide relief to paddy farmers.

“We are yet to assess the damage as the productivity varies depending on the terrain. But the reports from the fields say more than 50% of the crops have been damaged calling for chemical control of the pests. The infestation is not by just one kind of pest. There are many reported in seven districts, the easternmost being Namsai,” Mr Lego said.

The pests identified so far are the white-backed plant hoper, brown plant hopper, green leaf hopper, spiny beetle and the rice hispa, a species of leaf beetle. These pests have left standing crops yellowish.

The Siang belt is Arunachal Pradesh’s most productive in agriculture and allied sectors because of suitable agro-climatic conditions and more plain areas for cultivation than other parts of the State.

Low yield

Farm officials said the yield of farmers, whose cultivation cycle was affected by COVID-19 restrictions, would be “very low” this time due to the pest attacks.

Farmers elsewhere in the Northeast have had to grapple with pests this year. Some of these pests had never been reported in the region earlier.

Paddy farmers in Assam’s Dhemaji and Lakhimpur district suffered from a fall armyworm attack in April. This pest infested maize crops across Bishnupur, Chandel, Churachandpur, Imphal East, Imphal West and Ukhrul districts of Manipur a month later.

Fall armyworm attacked almost 3,000 hectares of cropland in Mokokchung district of Nagaland around the same time before farmers in the State’s Kohima and Zunheboto districts bore the brunt of an attack from the semilooper, a moth larva commonly known as inchworm.

In June, a non-familiar grasshopper species destroyed crops in West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya.

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