Sat, Jan 21, 2017 | updated 09:55 AM IST

'Armyworms' menace leaves Assam farmers high and dry

Updated: Sep 14, 2016 07:39 IST

Majuli (Assam) [India], Sept. 14 (ANI): Swarm of armyworms devoured swathe of croplands in Majuli district of Assam, leaving the farmers, who have just started coming to terms with the recent flood devastation, high and dry.

The armyworms get their name from their behaviour of moving across fields in an army-like fashion.

In last seven days 1,600 hectares cropland with paddy was destroyed by the army worms throughout Majuli, a caterpillar locally known as 'shur puk'.

"Armyworms, which are known as swarming caterpillar also, have affected about 1,600 hectares throughout Majuli. Around 3010 families have been affected. We have treated more than 500 hectares of land but there is another 1100 hectares of land still have to be treated," said the district agriculture officer.

"When it affects the crops, part of it will not yield because it has also been damaged by the caterpillar. It is very unfortunate. In previous years farmers did not have information about the caterpillar effect in the crop fields. But this year, after floods, this caterpillar is very severe in Majuli," he added.

As on Monday, Golaghat district in upper Assam was the worst-hit by army worms with 6, 671 hectare of paddy crop devoured, followed by Dibrugarh with 5,000 hectare cropland damaged. All these happened within three days.

Sivasagar is the third worst affected district where 2,800 hectare cropland damaged. The other armyworms hit districts are Jorhat, Majuli, Lakhimpur, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Nalbari and Dhubri.

The armyworms attack came at a time when the farmers of the state have started preparing their fields for winter paddy after the devastating flood last month damaged nearly three lakh hectare crop areas.

The last time such a major attack of armyworms took place was in 1967, but the damage wasn't as widespread.

Farmers across the state have resorted to lighting prayer lamps and conducting religious rituals in their fields with the hope of saving their crops.

As caterpillars consume available food sources, they migrate as an army to new host plants. Though they feed mainly on grasses (oats, wheat, fall rye, corn, barley and forage grasses), they can be a pest of some vegetables like bean, cabbage, carrot, onion, pea, pepper, radish and sweet potato. (ANI)