The only region so far free from infestation – food bowl states in northwest India – is being fast raided by the worm, which can travel thousands of kilometers aided by winds alone.(Kunal Patil/ HT Photo)
The only region so far free from infestation – food bowl states in northwest India – is being fast raided by the worm, which can travel thousands of kilometers aided by winds alone.(Kunal Patil/ HT Photo)

New farm pests emerging as a food-security threat, maize yield hit

Among a flood of new pests that has emerged over the past couple of years, one has been super-invasive and the most threatening: the fall armyworm.
By Zia Haq | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON AUG 03, 2019 04:04 PM IST

Global farm threats are knocking on India’s doors in the form of newer pests, some of them voracious crop-destroyers that can roil farm production and farmers’ incomes, prompting officials to call for stricter quarantine checks for biological imports.

Among a flood of new pests that has emerged over the past couple of years, one has been super-invasive and the most threatening: the fall armyworm. The worm, cited by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) as a “food security nightmare”, has cut maize yields by up to 30% in key producing states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Telangana, experts said.

The pest has spread rapidly across states after being first spotted in July 2018 in three maize hubs of Karnataka: Hassan, Bellur and Shimoga. “It’s breaching new frontiers,” said AN Shylesha of the National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources.

The only region so far free from infestation – food bowl states in northwest India – is being fast raided by the worm, which can travel thousands of kilometers aided by winds alone.

On August 1, a pest sample from a Uttar Pradesh farm tested positive, an official said. “We confirmed it to be the fall armyworm. In one season alone it had destroyed 15-20% of India’s corn. It has a big potential for causing yield losses,” said Shylesha.

A molecular profiling of the pest by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research revealed its origins: a 100% match with populations in Costa Rica and Canada, although the pest was first identified in Africa in 2016.

The fall armyworm has a voracious appetite for crops. According to an FAO alert, it has spread to more than 30 countries since being discovered, potentially destroying $5 billion worth of corn, its favourite snack.

Shylesha said several new pests had appeared in India over the past couple of years, which he attributed to increasing trade in biological materials and global travel. These include the coconut-destroying spiraling white fly, the erlophyld mite, which attacks many crops, the woolly apple aphid, the berry borer beetle that drills into coffee, tuta absoluta, which eats tomato plants, and the papaya-munching mealy bug.

Shylesha and his team were in Kathmandu this week to help the country secure its farms since the pest has devoured maize crops in the Himalayan country too.

“Maize farmers who have reported incidence of infestation by this pest have cited yield losses of up to 30%. In Karnataka, the losses have been reported to be 30%, while in Andhra Pradesh, up to 27% losses,” said Bhagirath Choudhary, director of the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC).

India produces over 20 million tonne of maize annually and the crop is a major source of farm income. SABC has launched a programme to popularise a special trap containing a chemical produced by female fall armyworms to ensnare male pests. “This is like a signalling device. If you have the pest in the trap, you know your farm has been infested.”

The organisation has launched a national website, fallarmyworm.org.in, to help mount a coordinated control programme.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has launched a national programme to rapidly breed pests that feed on the fall armyworm as the primary cost-effective defence. “Biocontrol multiplication units in each state have embarked on a programme to rapidly increase the population of these pests. But the worry is that it is now present in almost all states,” Shylesha said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Actor Taapsee Pannu is currently shooting for her film Loop Lapeta.(HT_PRINT)
Actor Taapsee Pannu is currently shooting for her film Loop Lapeta.(HT_PRINT)

'According to our finance minister': What Taapse Pannu said on 2013 I-T raids

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:06 AM IST
The raids were also to search her memories of the 2013 raid that happened at her properties, Taapsee Pannu said on Saturday.
Close
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.(HT photo)
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.(HT photo)

Odisha: State govt to increase funds for MSMEs, says CM Patnaik

ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:45 AM IST
While inaugurating the MSME Trade fair 2021 through Video conferencing, the Chief Minister said "In the next financial year, the budget of MSME Department is being substantially increased.
Close
Visitors from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala nd Maharashtra will need RT-PCR tests to enter Rajasthan.(Representational image/HT PHOTO)
Visitors from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala nd Maharashtra will need RT-PCR tests to enter Rajasthan.(Representational image/HT PHOTO)

Rajasthan makes negative Covid report mandatory for visitors from 4 more states

By Jaykishan Sharma
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:37 AM IST
  • A statement form the Rajasthan Chief Minister's Office cited rising Covid-19 cases in the neighbouring states for the decision to insist on negative Covid reports for visitors.
Close
The accused allegedly took money from the woman under the pretext of his medical treatment on various occasions in last two years,(Representational Photo)
The accused allegedly took money from the woman under the pretext of his medical treatment on various occasions in last two years,(Representational Photo)

Nagpur man befriends nurse on matrimonial site, dupes her of 40 lakh

By Vijay Kumar Yadav
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:09 AM IST
  • The woman who suspected foul play, checked the accused's Facebook account and found out that he was regularly chatting with another woman, who turned out to be his wife.
Close
Indian army trucks drive near Pangong Tso lake near the India China border in Ladakh area.(AP file photo)
Indian army trucks drive near Pangong Tso lake near the India China border in Ladakh area.(AP file photo)

'India-China border tensions reflect growing Chinese aggression': Kahl

PTI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 09:43 AM IST
The past decade has seen promising trends in the US-India defence trade and technology relationship, Biden's pick for Pentagon said.
Close
Mumbai: Civic workers sanitize the premises CSTM amid coronavirus pandemic in Mumbai, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI02_23_2021_000161B)(PTI)
Mumbai: Civic workers sanitize the premises CSTM amid coronavirus pandemic in Mumbai, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI02_23_2021_000161B)(PTI)

Active Covid-19 cases above 1.8 lakh, with 18,327 new infections in 24 hours

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 09:55 AM IST
In the beginning of Februray, India's active cases dropped below 1.5 lakh. The gradual rise indicates a definite resurgence, as the vaccination programme is going on full swing.
Close
Rakbar and his friend Aslam were beaten up. While Aslam managed to escape, Rakbar succumbed to his injuries and died in an Alwar hospital.(HT file photo)
Rakbar and his friend Aslam were beaten up. While Aslam managed to escape, Rakbar succumbed to his injuries and died in an Alwar hospital.(HT file photo)

Final hearing of Alwar lynching case to be held today. Here's a recap

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:26 AM IST
Rakbar Khan was allegedly killed by people who claimed to be 'gau rakshaks' in suspicion of cow smuggling.
Close
"The PM would arrive here on Saturday morning to address the gathering. He is scheduled to leave on the same day," news agency PTI quotes a senior official as saying.(REUTERS)
"The PM would arrive here on Saturday morning to address the gathering. He is scheduled to leave on the same day," news agency PTI quotes a senior official as saying.(REUTERS)

News updates from HT: PM to address Combined Commanders' Conference today

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 09:04 AM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
An Assistant Commandant of CRPF’s CoBRA was killed and seven others were injured in an IED blast in Chhattisgarh(PTI file photo)
An Assistant Commandant of CRPF’s CoBRA was killed and seven others were injured in an IED blast in Chhattisgarh(PTI file photo)

ITBP jawan killed in Maoist IED blast in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:33 AM IST
  • It was the second Maoist attack in the last two days in Chhattisgarh.
Close
The Supreme Court of India..(HT PHOTO)
The Supreme Court of India..(HT PHOTO)

SC seeks Centre’s response to trace Army captain in Pakistani jail since 1997

By Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:05 AM IST
  • A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) asked the petitioner's lawyer to compile a list of similarly placed officers of the Indian armed forces still languishing in Pakistani jails.
Close
Maulana KR Firangi Mahali of the Islamic Centre of India said the woman's video is a message to all Muslims to end the dowry system.(ANI Twitter)
Maulana KR Firangi Mahali of the Islamic Centre of India said the woman's video is a message to all Muslims to end the dowry system.(ANI Twitter)

End dowry system: Leaders speak up after Gujarat woman allegedly dies by suicide

Written by Prashasti Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:39 AM IST
The 23-year-old woman allegedly jumped into Ahmedabad's Sabarmati river soon after she shot the video in which she is seen troubled due to her relationship with her husband.
Close
Uddhav Thackeray is not in favour of imposing lockdown in the state.
Uddhav Thackeray is not in favour of imposing lockdown in the state.

Maharashtra adds over 50k new cases in 6 days: What ministers said on lockdown

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:50 AM IST
Going by Thackeray's deadline of 8 to 15 days to review the Covid-19 situation of the state, a decision on whether new restrictions will be imposed across the state is likely to be made after February 8.
Close
Former Karnataka Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi wo resigned on Wednesday over allegations of sexual exploitation.
Former Karnataka Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi wo resigned on Wednesday over allegations of sexual exploitation.

Court restrains media from airing Karnataka minister's alleged sex tape

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:40 AM IST
  • The order was issued after hearing an injunction suit filed by Ramesh Jarkiholi’s lawyers on Wednesday. The suit had named 68 media houses, channels and others.
Close
Alex Ellis, British high commissioner to India.(MINT)
Alex Ellis, British high commissioner to India.(MINT)

British envoy says farmers' protest is India’s 'internal issue'

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:16 AM IST
  • High Commissioner Alex Ellis also said more debates on the farmers' protest should be expected around the world as India takes on a greater role on the global stage
Close
Health worker in PPE kit collects swab sample at the market at Boring road for Covid 19 test, in Patna, Bihar.(HT photo)
Health worker in PPE kit collects swab sample at the market at Boring road for Covid 19 test, in Patna, Bihar.(HT photo)

LIVE: Jump in India's daily Covid-19 count, reports 18,327 new infections

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:25 AM IST
The global coronavirus tally is over the 116 million-mark with the death toll crossing 2.5 million, as per the John Hopkins University coronavirus tracker.
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP