October rains make Odisha farmers vulnerable to Chakada, Mite attacks!

But the State Agriculture Department is yet to issue any advisory to the vulnerable districts. Pest management seemingly is not in Odisha's disaster management plan

Bhubaneswar: For Odisha, it seems disaster management is limited to evacuation of people before any cyclone. Pest management triggered by unseasonal rainfall looks apparently a Greek to its lexicon of disaster management.

When IMD made a forecast of unseasonal rains from October 23 – 25 in as many as 15 districts, the agriculture department is apparently in a slumber as no advisory has been disseminated to farmers to save their standing paddy crops from pest attack.

Significantly, the year 2017 is evident when unseasonal rains then preceded by high humidity, as is the case now, paved the red carpet for Brown Plant Hopper (BPH), locally known as Chakada, to acquire epidemic proportions that then triggered widespread farm crisis and farm suicides.

What is again missing this time is, as per a senior OUAT scientist, the State Agriculture Department has not done any survey for BPH or Chakada to manage the pest in vulnerable districts like Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sundergarh and Deogarh.

Already, reports from the districts suggest BPH infection of the standing paddy crops there in many blocks. And the complain of farmers have been that the insecticides are not producing the desired results.

In such a scenario, there is a need to apply more potash per acre to control the pest, he observed.

Moreover, as per OUAT observation, districts like Cuttack, Khurda, Puri, Ganjam, Jagatsingpur, Kendrapara and Nayagarh districts are also vulnerable to BPH or Chakada following the unseasonal rains.

Though OUAT has conveyed so to the Agriculture Department, till date no advisory has been issued in these districts, the senior OUAT scientist observed.

“Not only BPH, the standing paddy crops in the aforesaid districts are also vulnerable to Panicle Mite, the most destructive mite that affected paddy crops worldwide,” he added.

The moot question then is why the mites are most feared worldwide and why an advisory is needed to  be issued to control and manage the mites?

It’s because, this pest brings in deformity to the paddy grains. And makes the grain unsaleable. This hurts more in Odisha as while procuring paddy, the Agriculture Department rejects their paddy for not conforming to set paddy standards. The scenario then will trigger major farm crisis in the State.