New bug hits crops in Sundergarh

Sundergarh: As if erratic monsoon and drought-like situation was not enough, infestation of a crop-guzzling insect is threatening to wipe out cultivation and pile more worries on farmers of Sundergarh district in Odisha.

Identified as Fall Armyworm, the bug has infested hectares of farmland in Kutra and Nuagaon areas of Sundergarh, destroying several types of crops like paddy, maize, vegetables, pulses and even oilseeds.

Sanjeev Kumar Mohanty, an officer of the agriculture department expressed his concern over the development and said that this type of bug was seen for the first time in Africa in 2016.

“The peculiarity of this insect is that it can spread fast enough to cover 400 square km of area overnight. It also reproduces in large numbers and its eggs develop fast into grubs which make the crops even more susceptible,” said Mohanty.

The official further noted that this insect has the capacity to unleash havoc in around 182 different types of crops.

Sources said, the Fall Armyworm infestation was seen in India and Southeast Asian countries for the first time during monsoon last season after it caused massive losses to farmers in Africa and west Asian countries in 2016 and 2017.

Earlier in March this year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation had issued warning to farmers in India that the onward march of the insect may cause losses.

Gyan Prakash Dungdung, a farmer of Kutra said that he had cultivated maize in his field with hope of good yield, but is anxious now because of the bugs.