Nagaland: Ferocious pest threatens to affect income of potato farmers
Kohima, May 21 (EMN): Pest infestation has left potato farmers of Khonoma village worried as it has threatened to affect the yield of their farms.
A large number of pest, known as semiloopers, is said to have destroyed potato leaves in Khonoma farms during the past few weeks.
The DHO Kohima, S Senka Jamir, on Thursday visited the farms which were infested by semiloopers and distributed 20 sprayers (160 ltr capacity) and around 150 litre of neem oil to the farmers to mitigate the infestations. Carrot and bottle gourd seeds were also distributed.
Speaking with Eastern Mirror, Jamir said that this kind of moths are very ferocious and can damage crops overnight. He also informed that vigilance is needed during this stage, as the leaves are gentle. Plants manufacture foods through its leaves and therefore crops whose leaves are completely devoured by the pest will not be able to grow again, he said.
While describing Khonoma villagers as one of the most hardworking people, he said that if the pests continue to damage crops even after counselling and monitoring, they will have to advise them to use in-organic pesticides not for consumption but at least for next year’s seed purpose. For commercial purpose it will be a problem, he added.
Jamir said that some farms have reached economic threshold level. “If the problem becomes beyond control then we have to report to the disaster management authority for compensation,” he stated.
Methaheto Chase, Farmers Friend (Secü Block), also told this newspaper that they experience some kind of pests in their farms almost every yearbut they have never come across large number of semiloopers like this time. It’s almost three weeks since infestation began, and we reported it to the office but due to the lockdown, they could not reach us on time, he said.
The farmers by tried their best to remove the pest but could not, and now various departments are coming forward and helping us especially the horticulture department, agriculture department and NSRLM, by giving us organic pesticides, he added.
Chase said that the farmers have tried spraying neem oil, which is of course killing the pests, but not being able to completely get rid of it as of now, and they would continue to do the same.
Potato leaves, maize and cabbage are the main crops damaged. Work which can be done in a day now take them three to four days, he said, adding that the villagers are trying their best to kill the pest so that they can get good harvest this season, i.e. in June.
Chase said that the economy of the farmers will be affected if the harvest is bad. Giving extra time in taking care of the crops does not matter if the crops grow healthy, but if the leaves and stems of the potato are destroyed, the harvest will be bad, so we are expecting loss, he added.
Village council member Balie Zinyü also said that in other times of the year, if they plant one tin of potatoes, they harvest 2-3 tins in return. The farmers also expressed gratitude to the department for helping them in this kind of situation.