Wayanad farmers put on alert over fall armyworm infestation


The Agriculture Department has issued an advisory to farmers in Wayanad district in the wake of the infestation of fall armyworm (FAW), which causes extensive damage to crops.

The pest attack has been reported on maize and plantain cultivations in various parts of the district, including Perikkallur and Pulpally in Panamaram block panchayat and Edavaka in Mananthavady block panchayat.

โ€œThe invasive pest damaged maize crop in various parts of the country. It was found that it had damaged the plantain crop in the district, especially the nendran variety of plantain,โ€ said Principal Agriculture Officer Sajimon K. Varghese.

The lepidopteran pest indigenous to the Americas has been spreading across the world, harming crops. It migrated to Africa in 2016 and India in June 2018. It feeds in large numbers on leaves and stems of more than 80 plant species, causing major damage to crops such as maize, rice, sorghum and sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.

The pest attack on maize was reported in some parts of Thrissur and Malappuram districts two years ago and it was brought under control. However, a recent department survey in the district in December found that it had attacked two-to-four-month-old plantain crop, said Mr. Sajimon.

According to the officer, a female moth lays 100 to 200 eggs inside the whorls of leaves. The worms that come off the eggs eat the lower portion of leaves, and the colour of the leaves turn from green to white.

If farmers found such infestation, they should contact the nearby Krishi Bhavan or the numbers 9495756549 or 9447530961, he said.

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