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PULLAMBADI FARMERS’ PLEA

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Farmers from Pullampadi block in Tiruchi district thronged the Collector’s Office on Friday to draw attention of the authorities to the extensive damage caused to maize crop by Fall Armyworm, an invasive pest.

The spread of Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) to maize fields in the district was confirmed by Agriculture Department in August. A few months prior to that, the pest attack was reported in Karnataka, Telangana and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) had sounded an alert. The pest could devastate the crop and also spread to other crops.

Carrying the damaged plants, the farmers said that maize crops raised on about 20,000 acres in Pullampadi and Lalgudi areas were completely damaged and demanded sanction of compensation. “The crop is now about 50 days old. But the pest attack started when it was around 30 days. Though we sprayed the pesticide recommended by the Agriculture Department, the pest could not be controlled. We have spent about ₹15,000-20,000 an acre so far,” said P. Ramesh of Peruvalapur, one of the affected farmers.

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Farmers said that on an average they would have harvested 25 bags (100 kg) of maize from an acre. Each bag would have fetched them around ₹1,200.

A.Soundarapandian, DMK MLA representing Lalgudi constituency, who led the farmers in presenting a petition to the Collector K. Rajamani during the farmers’ grievance day meeting, said the crop was sown only in September/ October in the Pullampadi area and blamed the government for failing to advise the farmers against going in for the crop as the pest attack was noticed well ahead. “They could have suggested alternative crops and averted this loss to farmers,” he said. and demanded that the government compensate the farmers at least to the extent of their investment.

Collector K. Rajamani, on receiving the petition, said he was aware of the pest attack in Pullampadi, where the crop has been raised on about 15,000 acres, and other places. “We will take it up with the government,” he assured. He also disclosed that he had directed Seed Certification officials to check the seeds being sold in the open market as some farmers had expressed doubts that the seeds could have been infested.

 

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