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FALL ARMYWORM DESTROYS 15,000 HA OF MAIZE CROP

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The pest spreads fast and attack has been reported in Karur and Tiruchi districts; farmers demand compensation

Fall Armyworm, an invasive pest, has destroyed about 15,303 hectares of maize crop in the district, Collector K.Rajamani said here on Friday. He said a report had been sent to the government in this regard.

The crop has been raised on 15,379 ha in eight taluks, including Pullampadi, Manachanallur, Thuraiyur, Uppilliyapuram and Vaiyampattai, and the pest has destroyed almost the entire cultivated area.

Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) was first reported in the country a few months back in Karnataka and Telangana, following which the Indian Council for Agricultural Research sounded an alert. The pest spreads fast and attacks have been reported in Karur and Tiruchi districts. Farmers in Tiruchi district have been demanding compensation for the damage.

Speaking at the monthly farmers’ grievance day meeting, Mr. Rajamani said based on demand from farmers, steps were being taken to get compensation from the government as a special case.

A sum of ₹1 crore had been released as an initial allotment to the district for being disbursed as compensation to farmers whose coconut trees were damaged during Cyclone Gaja.

The compensation had been disbursed to 1,121 farmers in Tiruverumbur, Srirangam, Manapparai and Marungapuri taluks. The government also made an initial allotment of ₹1.68 crore for being disbursed as compensation to farmers whose horticultural crops were damaged in the cyclone. The money would be deposited in the bank accounts of the affected farmers within the next few months.

Agriculture crops on about 228 hectares and horticulture crops on 2,331 ha had been damaged in the cyclone and the district administration sought ₹2.21 crore to be disbursed as compensation for damaged agricultural crops and ₹3.41 crore for damaged horticultural crops.

Steps would be taken to get the remaining sum and disburse the compensation to all affected farmers soon, he added.

Speaking on the issue, R. Raja Chidambaram, State secretary, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, sought adequate compensation for maize farmers, whose crops have been damaged by the pest attack, and small onion (shallots) growers whose crops have been damaged due to frost. As per an earlier announcement by the Union government, compensation can be given to all crops if the loss was more than 33%, he said.

Viswanathan, president, Tamizhaga Eri Mattrum Attru Pasana Vivasayigal Sangam, demanded sanction of ₹25,000 an acre for farmers whose maize and small onion crops have been damaged.

Earlier, a cross-section of the farmers staged a demonstration in front of the Collector’s Office condemning Karnataka’s attempts to build a dam across the Cauvery at Mekedatu.

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