Saturday, 2 July, 2022

‘Collective efforts a must to protect maize fields from fall armyworm attack’

RAJSHAHI: Agricultural scientists and researchers unanimously viewed collective efforts of all the district, upazila and agricultural officials and others concerned can be the best way of protecting the maize farming from the fall armyworm attack.

Expressing their grave concern over the issue they also observed that the fall armyworm cannot be killed with chemical pesticides. They can only be controlled by applying bio-pesticides along with an integrated pest management system, but cannot be eradicated fully.

They came up with the observation while addressing a farmers’ field day meeting titled “Eco-friendly Agriculture Pest Management System to Control Fall Armyworm in Maize Crop” here yesterday.

Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) organised the meeting at Baduria village under Charghat upazila in the district supported by Fighting Back Against Fall Armyworm in Bangladesh Project.

Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Komolaranjan Das addressed the meeting as the chief guest while Director General of BWMRI Dr Golam Faruque and Director General of Bangladesh Sugar Crop Research Institute Dr Amzad Hossain spoke as special guests with BWMRI Principal Scientific Officer Dr Ilias Hossain in the chair, reports BSS.

Detailing the infection, extent of its damage and possible controlling measures of the pest Komolaranjan Das said the fall armyworm has been identified as devastating and badly damaging to the maize crop. Not only maize, it attacks more than 80 crops. In the current year, it has been detected along with identifying its extent of damage.

He also said effective steps should be taken to control the worm after spotting its existence through a pheromone trap supplied by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Priority should be given to control it in the early stage of its attack and wide-ranging awareness among the farmers in general can be a vital means of attaining success in this regard. The fall armyworm, the scientific name of which is Spodoptera frugiperda, is widely spread in many Asian countries like India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand and Myanmar.

Dr Golam Faruque said Bangladesh will face an epidemic if the spread of this pest is not controlled at an early stage. The scientist said that the damage caused by the fall armyworm was very high. They can destroy crops overnight.  If not well controlled, the fall armyworm can cause significant damage to crops in its larvae stage.

It prefers maize, but can feed on more than 80 additional species of plants including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetables and cotton.

Within five months of the detection of a plant-eating pest in Bangladesh, the FAO has come up with an emergency project to contain possible spread of the armyworm, Dr Faruque told the meeting.