After flood-drought woes, state farmers face insect invasion threat

IMPHAL, 22nd Oct: Though the state farmers are still struggling to recover from the wrath of destructive flooding and drought-like situation, they are in for more trouble as it is officially confirmed that the food producers, paddy cultivators in particular, in some parts of the state, are facing pest invasion.

Speaking to news persons after flagging off Mobile Plant Health Clinics on Monday, agriculture director Ph Rajendra informed that launch of the lab-on-wheels is as per strict instruction of the chief minister to reach out to all farmers in distress and take immediate preventive measures to check further spread of invasion of paddy plants by pests and insects.

While noting with regret that this year has been one of the worst years for the farmers after vast tracts of prime paddy fields was submerged due to flash floods on two occasions, the director said that rainfall deficit further compounded farmers’ problem as many of the fields are still parched.

The latest problem being endured by the farmers is due to invasion of the crops by pests in some parts of the valley districts, Rajendra said after the mobile plant health clinics for four valley district were flagged off by additional chief secretary Letkhogin Haokip.

Stating that the pest invasion was detected when department officials carried out inspection to determine possible paddy yield this season, he said that the destruction caused to paddy stalks was found to be caused by an insect called Plant Hopper, which suck the stem dry from bottom to top.

Further stating that one of the possible causes for Plant Hoppers invading particular paddy fields might be dense plantation of the crops, he explained that farmers were advised during training sessions to sow not more than 60 kg paddy seeds in a pari.

Contrary to the instructions, information has been received that in those area where the pest invasion have been reported farmers sowed more than 80 kg in the same field size, Rajendra said and informed that Plant Hoppers usually prefer dense foliage.

The mobile plant clinics launched Monday are equipped with pesticide and sprayers and will monitor the situation in paddy fields of Bishnupur, Thoubal, Imphal East and Imphal West, he added. Farmers have also been advised to contact the district agriculture offices or through mobile numbers 8837407835 (DAO, Imphal East), 9862899001 (DAO, Imphal West), 8974913308 (Bishnupur), 8794060968 (DAO, Thoubal) and 9774081133, 8415875158, 99774866818 (plant health clinic) in case there is any sign of pest invasion.

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