Mizoram farmers from 130 villages have faced loss of around 20 crore to maize cultivation due to the fall armyworm (FAW) attack.
The FAW is an insect indigenous to the Americas.
“As per the initial estimate, the loss of maize due to the FAW attack was around Rs 20 crore, but it is likely to escalate further if the outbreak is not fully brought under control at the earliest,” said an agriculture department official.
FAW has so far affected 2,424 hectares of the 3,439 hectares of maize cultivation across all eight districts of the state.
Official sources said the Mizoram government has already informed the Centre about the loss.
“FAW was detected last year in several states prompting the Centre to alert state governments of possible insect attack. The state’s agriculture department immediately warned all its district offices and special squads were set up in all eight districts even before the constitution of Rapid Response Team last month,” agriculture department director Rohmingthanga Colney told reporters here on Wednesday.
He said agriculture department has distributed pesticides to the farmers and also made efforts to educate them on how to use pesticides more effectively.
Colney said that the state’s Central Integrated Pest Management Centre is also working in consultation with the Central government’s Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage.
A series of meetings were held between chief minister Zoramthanga and the agriculture minister C Lalrinsanga over the outbreak and find ways how to deal with it.
“The department has advised maize farmers to avoid large-scale using of chemical pesticides which are not recommended by the agriculture experts and also to carefully follow instructions for mixing and using them,” said an official statement.
Mizoram is one of the top producers of maize in India. In 2017-18, the state produced about 9,470 metric tonnes of maize.