A mysterious caterpillar attack has left mango farmers cursing the insects.
Just a week ago, they were dreaming of a good harvest given the healthy flowering and fruiting. But no more after baby butterfly attack on their crops. Initial estimates are scary for them -- nearly 80 per cent of crop damage.
The attack has been unprecedented in Malihabad, Mall and Rahimabad belt.
The loss of crop, farmers expect, will have an adverse impact on their normal lives, the farmers fear.
"The mysterious attack of caterpillars has shattered our dreams. We are expecting a huge financial loss this season," one of the main mango-growers of Rahimabad belt, Harun Akhgar told Hindustan Times.
“Everything was fine till last week. But, suddenly we found mysterious caterpillars (bhangara) in four different colours i.e. red, yellow, black and green, have damaged the crop so badly. They are devouring the unripe mangoes. But, what’s scary is that even he use of medicines like amida, alpha and konalphas have no impact on them. I have never seen such caterpillars (bhangara) ever in my life. I am growing mangoes for 20 years now," said Farooq Ali, a mango exporter.
“The heatwave (from western area) this season too has rubbed salt on our wounds. This heat is not good for the mango crop at all," he added.
Akhgar, who has represented UP in volleyball in nationals, admitted that farmers were facing the threat of another plant disease called "jhumka", which does not allow mangoes to grow in size.
As far as the government help to the farmers is concerned, Akhgar says like every year this time too the experts visited the area just before the flowering season and gave tips on usual crop maintenance.
But no one had paid a visit after the mysterious attack by the caterpillars.
"Even the drug companies have refused to provide us with any solution to this problem as the caterpillars are still a mystery for the too," he says.