Fall armyworm wreaks havoc on maize fields in SalyanAgri-technicians estimate that maize grown on 30 hectares of land is infested.
Fall armyworm has destroyed maize planted on huge tracts of land in Kumakh Rural Municipality-1 and its surrounding villages, disappointing hundreds of farmers already hit hard by the lockdown.
Agri-technicians estimate that maize grown on 30 hectares of land is infested. Farmers said they are worried as there could be no income this summer.
Kali Bahadur Budhathoki, a local farmer, said that his crop planted on seven ropanis of land has been affected. “The pests could not be controlled even with the use of pesticides,” he added.
Hari Shahi, another local farmer, expressed concern over the decline in production after the pest infested young maize saplings. These pests affected the paddy harvest last year and this year, its maize, he said. "With the decline in production, it has become difficult to manage our livelihood," he said. Farmers tried to contain the spread by burying infested crops and using pesticides, but to no avail.
Gopal Budhathoki, ward chairman of Kumakh Rural Municipality-1, said that more than 700 farmers of the ward are in trouble after the pest started destroying maize crops. "Even though agri-technicians have been deployed to control the pests, the problem only arose due to a lack of pesticides in the market," he said.
Mahesh Acharya, chief of the Agriculture Knowledge Centre, said that the young maize saplings were already damaged beyond help and using pesticides this late was not going to bring the fall armyworm infestation under control. “The farmers should have informed us earlier”, added Acharya.
According to him, about 90 tonnes of maize is grown on 30 hectares of land.
In Banke, farmers reported that the fall armyworm recently destroyed ready-to harvest maize grown on 2,450 hectares of land.
According to agriculture experts, the fall armyworm, which was once common in the Americas, has been spreading through Africa and Asia since 2016, flying up to 100 km (60 miles) a night. Usually, fall armyworms become active at night and feed on crops.
According to the National Maize Research Centre, fall armyworm poses a big challenge to Nepal’s agricultural sector, with the pest able to fly over distances ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 kilometres in its lifecycle. It can destroy around 8o kinds of food crops including paddy, wheat and maize.
Last year in December, maizefields in six regions in central Tarai were infested by the fall armyworm.
The first occurrence of armyworm was noted in Gaindakot, Nawalparasi on May 9 last year. Since then, it has been devastating crops in several districts across Nepal due to the lack of timely intervention.