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Agriculture

Armyworm Attack

  • 09 Apr 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

The Directorate of Agriculture has reported an armyworm attack on the standing crops in the northeastern Dhemaji district of Assam.

  • The pest attack has added to sorrows of the already worried farmers, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Points

  • The armyworm caterpillar is the larval stage of several species of moths.
  • It has a huge appetite and can feed on more than 80 species of plants according to the entomologists.
    • Entomology is a branch of zoology which involves the scientific study of insects.
  • Challenges:
    • The weather is a factor because there are no pre-monsoon rains in Assam yet and the temperature is very high now. The armyworm can cause more damage in the absence of rain.
    • Another major issue is reaching out to farmers. All the roads and gaps have been blocked due to the fear of contracting coronavirus.
  • Other Concerns:
    • Officials are afraid of the winter crop cycle getting affected if the lockdown continues beyond 14th April, 2020.
      • April-May is the time when paddy farmers in Assam clear weeds and manure the fields for transplanting the seedlings of the winter crop from the nursery. The process takes 35-40 days.
    • According to the farm experts, if the cycle is pushed back by more than a month it could impact yield because the sowing and maintenance phase of the crops would be very close to the flood timings of Assam.

Armyworm

  • Its scientific name is Spodoptera frugiperda and also commonly referred as Fall Armyworm (FAW).
  • It is a dangerous transboundary insect with a high potential to spread rapidly due to its natural distribution capacity and opportunities presented by international trade.
  • FAW represents a real threat to food security and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers by spreading across all of sub-Saharan Africa, the Near East and Asia.
  • Control and Elimination:
    • Farmers need significant support to manage FAW sustainably in their cropping systems through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) activities.
    • FAW cannot be eliminated.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched a Global Action for FAW Control as a response to the international threat posed by the armyworms.

Source: TH

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