Already struggling with damage from unseasonal rain and procurement issues in the grain markets, farmers in the district now have to deal with plant hopper insects, which are destroying their crops.
Incidences of attacks by plant hopper, including brown hopper, have been reported from various areas of the district over the past few days.
A senior agriculture official said that the disease, coupled with the bad weather over the past few days, may bring down the expected yield of 9.18 lakh million tonnes paddy in the district this season by 5% to 6%.
"Nearly 1.61 lakh hectare, including 20,000 hectare of basmati, are under paddy throughout the district. Farmers have sown PUSA-44, HRK-47, PR-118 and Basmati-1509 varieties, of which PUSA-44 is yet to be harvested. This crop has been attacked by the hopper," he added.
The plant hopper, a pest, damages the grain and affects the yield, preventing farmers from getting the right price for their crop. These insects feed on plants by sucking the sap, leading to yellowing of leaves.
"When the plants dry out, the insects migrate to other areas and damage the plants," he said.
While agriculture department officials claimed that they were constantly in touch with farmers and they were advising them to spray insecticides, farmers at the market termed it one of the "worst" they had faced, alleging that both the government and the weather had ruined them.
Farmer Jaskaran Singh said insects had eaten his one acre crop, leading to drying of grain, which would now fetch a lower price.
Talking to HT, chief agriculture officer (CAO) Swatantra Kumar Aeri said, "The plant hopper might affect only those paddy varieties which are in stage of preparation, so the effect would be limited."
He added that the cloudy weather, which was preventing the paddy from drying properly, was a concern.
Paddy procurement report
On Day 13 of paddy procurement on Sunday, there was some respite for farmers with the rain stopping. Lifting of paddy from the markets also increased, but most procurement agencies still did not go to the markets to buy paddy. Labourers spent the day drying grain in the market areas.
Crops affected late-ripening PUSA-44, other varieties
Favourable conditions sunshine after brief showers
Time period mid-September
Total area under paddy 1.61 lakh hectare
Total expected yield 9.18 lakh million tonnes
Estimated damage 5% to 6%