Fall Armyworms attack Manipur again amid Coronavirus spread

FAW, a highly invasive pest, attacked maize crops in Manipur in 2019 May

Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation in maize has hit Manipur again amid the fight against coronavirus spread in the state, after it attacked the state for the first time in 2019. FAW infestation in maize during COVID-19 pandemic is unfortunate and should be dealt with strongly, Central Agricultural University (CAU) vice-chancellor M Premjit Singh said on Thursday.

Taking serious note of the FAW problem in the state, CAU held a one-day awareness programme on ‘Maize Fall Armyworm Attack during COVID-19 pandemic’ at Iroisemba on Thursday to curb the recurring attack.

“Occurring of FAW infestation in maize during COVID-19 pandemic is very unfortunate. The problem should be dealt very seriously before it gets worse by extending effort from every stakeholder,” Professor Singh, who was the chief guest of the function, said.

FAW, a highly invasive pest, attacked maize crops in 2019 in the same month, May. Maize crops in most of the districts were damaged as the pest spreads fast. Female larvae of FAW can travel a distance of 100 km in one night, the vice-chancellor said.

Singh noted that for this year, the attack is in initial stage but it has reached Bishnupur, Chandel, Churachandpur, Imphal East, Imphal West and Ukhrul districts. To prevent from further spread and large scale damage, the awareness programme was held despite the COVID-19 lockdown, he asserted.

The programme, organised by directorate of Extension Education, Central Agricultural University (CAU), Manipur, was attended by maize cultivators from various districts of the state. Bio-pesticides such as Emamectin benzoate five per cent SG and Spinetoram 11.7 per cent SC were distributed to the maize cultivators.

One of the maize cultivators from Imphal East, Soraisem Lukhoi said he shifted his agricultural practice from rice to maize last year to earn more profit. In his first attempt, the crop was infested by FAW. But the crop was saved from large-scale damage as there was rainfall in the right time, he added.

“Last year, I cultivated maize in one ‘pari’ (local measuring unit) of land. Half sangam (a quarter of ‘pari’) of the crop land was damaged by FAW attack. There was rainfall after the crop was infested and this helped in saving the produce from large scale damage. However, there was profit return of Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000,” he stated. As the present attack is in initial stage, they could easily prevented by taking extra care. He expressed his hope that the pest will be prevented by spraying bio-pesticide distributed by CAU.

He stated that such kind of natural disaster really demotivates the farmers. As it is result of environment imbalance, everyone should focus on conservation of forest to bring sustainable solution, he said. Director, Extension Education, CAU, Imphal professor Ratan Kumar Saha; registrar, CAU, Imphal, professor K Mamocha Singh and dean, College of Agriculture, CAU, Imphal, professor Indira Sarangthem attended the occasion as president and guests of honour respectively.

First Published:May 18, 2020, 7:39 p.m.