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Maize Crop across India under the Threat of Fall Armyworm

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia

The fear of fall armyworm (FAW) spread all across the country that has already started impacting the Kharif maize crop for which entities involved in creating awareness among the farmers have urged that the pesticides and safety kits used in containing the pest be exempted from GST.

The infestation by FAW has been turned severe this year and all private and public sector entities are being engaged in creating awareness among the farmers early in the crop cycle to contain the impact.

Call for GST exemption

Bhagirath Chaudhary, Director, South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC), New Delhi said, “The government needs to step in now and exempt pesticides, pheromone traps, and lures and other accessories such as safety kit, masks, and gloves for effective management of the FAW from GST”.

Agrochemicals, pesticides and the kits currently attached with a GST of 18 percent. Botanicals and biologicals, that have neem extract, attract a GST of 5-12 percent, he added.  


Awareness drive for farmers

“Pheromone trap is the fundamental requirement in the context of the emerging problem of FAW as it helps farmers to monitor the pests and mass trap them and disturb their mating cycle,” Chaudhary said regarding the reduction of GST which will help the farmers reduce costs in tackling the FAW menace.

SABC has been implementing Project Saffal (Project Safeguarding Farmers and Agriculture against FAW) from the past several weeks to create awareness among thousands of farmers of key producing regions in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

The project is mainly aimed at developing a suite of technologies, good agricultural practices and control measures along with educational material for various stakeholders to improve farmers' preparedness to tackle the menace.

“There has been a tremendous response to our awareness campaign from farmers and the State agriculture departments in places such as Davangere, Haveri, Dharwar, Aurangabad, and Chhindwara among others,” Chaudhary said. SABC expects to expand the project to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh, and Tamil Nadu soon. 

Senior Scientist at the National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources, A N Shylesha said, “The damage is very severe this year”. There’s some recovery in plants in irrigated areas wherever the farmers have taken up measures to contain the pest, he added.

The rapid spread of FAW 

FAW was first tracked in July last year in Karnataka.  It has rapidly spread to most of the South Indian state, including Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Central India, including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and the North-East region.

A special task force has been formed by the Centre to look into the matter. The Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare, has recommended three chemicals for control of this pest – Spinetoram 11.7% SC, Chlorantraniliprol 18.5% SC, and Thiamethoxam. 

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