Tackle threat of fall armyworm

20th January, 2019 10:22:27 printer

Fall armyworm, a dangerous pest native to countries far away from Bangladesh and seldom noticed in this subcontinent, appeared in crop fields in some parts of the country. According to a daily sun report published yesterday, the pest was found in some maize fields in Kushtia and Chuadanga at the end of the last year. This harmful insect feeds on plant materials, including the leaf and stem.

 This new enemy of crops has drawn the attention of agriculturists worldwide due to its potential to do substantial damage to crops. Because of the attack of the pest, some South African countries witnessed food crises in 2017 and 2018. As reported, the pest recently invaded 70 per cent maize fields in India's Karnataka region and led to a drop in yield by 20 per cent.

Eggs of the insect need the temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius for maturity. Start of the current growing season of most of the crops falls in winter when it is very unlikely to climb the temperature to that level in the country. The director-general of Department of Agriculture Extension said the presence of the caterpillar fall armyworm is the primary stage of a likely big attack.

The insect has been found in around 38 countries till now and it can travel up to 100 km in one night and affect 138 species of crops like maize, rice, sorghum and sugarcane. It damages vegetables and other crops as well. This pest grows very fast in high temperatures. As reported, after 2-3 days of hatch, the eggs turn to small larvae which immediately start to eat the plant materials to affect severely the yield of crops.

A likely fall armyworm attack may become a major threat to the country's agriculture. The pest’s feeding on seedlings of crops at the early growing season of the year may lead to devastating consequences of widespread crop loss. The country's foods security may be endangered if the deadly pest attacks paddy plants with the rise in temperatures in the coming months. It is urgent to formulate effective ways and implement them to root out the threat.