Paddy crops in at least 12 of the 17 blocks in Orissa's Sundargarh district have been affected by caterpillars, official sources said.
Five other blocks are also under threat with the swarming insects destroying over 35,000 hectares of land. As the district is reeling under erratic rainfall, the farmers are facing problems to save their crop and have virtually lost all hope.
With the devastation to agriculture produces looming large in the district, the district administration has gone into the damage control mode to combat the situation.
Deputy director of agriculture DC Sahoo said that 12 of 17 blocks in the district were affected by pests and four blocks in Panposh sub-division along with the Rajgangpur were partially hit due to absence of rain.
However, the situation was likely to improve after the rains during the past two days and spraying of pesticide.
Bonai-subdivision was the worst affected due to the caterpillar menace with caterpillars destroying vast tracts of paddy land as the pests have eaten the foliage of paddy sappling leaving the farmers high and dry in the midst of an already fickle monsoon.
Alarmed by the grim scenario, the district administration has begun supply of pesticides and sprayers and farmers were being trained on tackling the situation.
So far 15,525 liters of pesticide have been distributed at subsidised rates, agriculture department sources said.