Agriculture Director fears food scarcity Mobile plant clinics flagged off

Agriculture Director fears food scarcity Mobile plant clinics flagged off

By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Oct 22: After spells of both drought and flood which severely affected paddy cultivation this year, paddy cultivations which have started flowering have been attacked by two dangerous pests known as Early Worm and Plant Hooper, said Agriculture Director Ph Rajendro while expressing deep apprehension that the State may witness a famine-like situation.
Taking serious note of the situation, the Director flagged off four mobile plant health clinics from the Sanjenthong Agriculture office to help farmers tackle the devastating pests.
The four mobile plant health clinics were sent to areas affected by the two pests in Imphal West, Thoubal, Bishnupur and Imphal East.
The mobile plant health clinics are equipped with pumps and carry two types of pesticides. Farmers may purchase the pesticides at subsidised rates, Rajendro said.
He said that farmers living in vulnerable areas may contact officials on mobile numbers 8837407835 (Imphal West), 9862899001 (Imphal East), 8974913308 (Bishnupur), 8794060968 (Thoubal) and 9774081133 (Directorate of Agriculture).
Ph Rajendro said that farmers of the State have been facing a miserable situation after already experiencing the scourge of both flood and drought this year.
Now paddy which have started flowering are being attacked by two dangerous pests.
As most paddy fields became dry sometime back on account of which paddy plants could not flower, water pumps were provided to draw water to paddy fields at the advice of the Chief Minister.
The department, after providing water to dry paddy fields, has been making an assessment on the total paddy production this season. The assessment will be completed within the next three/four days, Rajendro said.
Saying that mankind is the primary agent of both climate change and ecological imbalance, the Director underscored the growing importance of an extensive afforestation campaign in order to ensure abundance of water both for agriculture and human consumption.
Expressing strong apprehension that the State may face a famine-like situation, he said that the department along with the Additional Chief Secretary has been visiting different places and is making an assessment on the total quantity of paddy that would be harvested this season.
It was during these field visits that officials came across two devastating pests. While Early Worm bites and snaps paddy flowers from stalks, Plant Hooper sucks dry paddy stalks.
Saying that Pamphel method of cultivating paddy which does not need transplantation is one primary reason for the outbreak of Early Worm and Plant Hooper, the Director rued that many farmers sowed 80 to 100 Kgs of paddy seeds in one hectare against the department’s appeal to sow only 60 Kgs in one hectare. Both Early Worm and Plant Hooper thrive in shady areas or where sunlight is received at the minimum level. Such habitat perfect for the two pests is provided by paddy plants which grow in close clusters. The two pests cannot survive if they get sunlight, Rajendro said.
The mobile plant health clinics have been launched in the four valley districts after Agriculture officials working in the field including District Agriculture Officers and Circle Agriculture Officers declared alert so that farmers can take up precautionary measures before it is too late, he added.

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