As Fall Armyworm destroys crops... Sensitise farmers, make control measures accessible, PFA urges ICAR

IMPHAL, May 18
Concerned with the incidence of Fall Armyworm, People For Animals has urged the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Manipur and authorities concerned to make available the measures to control the invasive pest at the earliest.
It may be mentioned that the presence of the highly invasive Fall Armyworm was detected in early May. So far its presence has been reported from almost all the districts in Manipur. Maize plantations are being affected by this pest.
Fearing the pest may become a malignant and destroy paddy after this episode, PFA in statement Saturday said that the ICAR Manipur Centre and authorities concerned should sensitise the farmers and distribute bio-pesticides before it spread further.
According to United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), ants, wasp (Khoi), earwig (chegapi), birds and frogs are common natural predators of the pest. Besides, there are certain bio-pesticides which contain virus and bacteria that can control Fall Armyworm, said PFA appealing the ICAR Manipur to make these measures available easily to the farmers at the earliest.
The farmers should be distributed pheromone trap and they should be educated about the various environmental friendly measures such as use of neem extract and others as pesticide to get best result, PFA said.
Mass awareness and sensitisation programmes will prove to be vital in controlling the pest, PFA added.
Meanwhile, concerned with the practice of killing frogs and other natural predators of pests for human consumption, PFA advised the public to be conscious about the consequence  it has on the environment and crops. Advising farmers to use environment friendly pesticides and fertilizers, PFA appealed shops not to sell pesticides without prescription  of agriculture officer.
The incidence of the highly invasive Fall Armyworm is a result of climate change, PFA hinted. According to FAO, Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) prefers maize, but can feed on more than 80 additional species of crops, including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.
It has already destroyed large areas of maize in Africa since it first landed there in early 2016 leading to economic losses of up to $5.5 million per year from 10 of the highest maize producing countries of Africa.