The sali paddy fields in Goalpara district of Assam has come under the attack of pests of late which has led to the damage of hundreds of bighas of crops. The pests have been identified as the swarming caterpillar. The areas of the districts like Agia, Rokhapara, Singimari, Dabbari villages under the Balijana development block and Pukhuripara, Gumaijhar under the Lakhipur block has come under fresh attack of pests.
Within a short period of time, the swarming caterpillar has destroyed huge areas of paddy fields. To add to the farmers’ woes, wild elephants also create menace in the said areas. Farmers Sobin Rabha, Sukumar Nath, Ramchandra Rabha, Fagun Rabha and several others said on Friday, “This year’s sali crop has already been affected due to scanty rainfall and now the pests are doubling our woes. We are in great despair.”
Ikramul Islam, Sub-Divisional Agricultural Officer (SDO) said, “Though pests are giving sleepless nights to the farmers in some areas of Balijana, Lakhipur and Majjakhili. But, we have managed to minimise the pest attack.” He further stated, “The farmers of the said villages approached us and we gave them pesticides like quinolphose and chloropyriphos. Moreover, we have suggested that the paddy fields which have been majorly affected due to pest attack be cordoned off and the pesticide Malathion be sprayed. This will prevent the pests from crossing over to the adjacent fields.”
Farmers in Assam have learnt to live with pest attack. Every year 5 per cent of the total crops are damaged either due to attack by wild tuskers or pest attack. Both the Forest Department as well as the Assam Agriculture Department has failed to come up with a proper solution in this regard.