Paddy fields measuring 28,000 hectares affected
GUWAHATI: Oriental armyworms (Mythimna separate), popularly called rice-eating caterpillars (shur puk), are out to seal the fate of farmers in as many as 16 districts in the state at a time when the paddy in the field has started ripening. The harvesting of paddy starts in November and concludes in December in Assam.
Oriental armyworms, well-known for their voracious eating habits, have started cutting and eating paddy in a drastic way before their harvest. The farmers in the 16 districts in the state are worried about the famine staring at them.
As of November 17, 2023, as many as 16 districts are under attack from oriental armyworms, affecting 28,450 hectares of paddy fields. The worst affected is the Baksa district in lower Assam, with 10,020 hectares of paddy fields under attack from the pest. Following Baksa is the Darrang district with 8,500 hectares under pest attack, Barpeta with 3,176 hectares, Bongaigaon with 1,455 hectares, Chirang with 900 hectares, Kamrup and Kamrup (M) with 850 hectares, Dhubri with 850 hectares, Kokrajhar with 973 hectares, Biswanath with 702 hectares, Sonitpur with 397 hectares, Udalguri with 200 hectares, Goalpara with 200 hectares, Lakhimpur with 195 hectares, Nalbari with 192 hectares, and Nagaon with 20 hectares.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma reviewed the situation of the paddy fields with the district commissioners recently and instructed them to take prompt remedial measures. After the review by the Chief Minister, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora called the senior officers of the Agriculture Department to the State Secretariat yesterday and took stock of the situation in the paddy fields. He also conducted a video conference with the district-level agriculture officers later. He instructed the deployment of more agriculture officers to the affected districts from other districts that have had no pest attacks. He also instructed the distribution of machines for spraying insecticides in the affected fields, besides raising awareness among the farmers about getting rid of the pest.