1. Agriculture World

Odisha Cashew Farmers in Trouble as Tea Mosquito Bug Destroys Crops

According to Sarat Chandra Behera, deputy director of the state horticulture department, thousands of cashew growers in the Ganjam district have lost crops due to the infestation, due to climate change.

Binita Kumari
According to Subash Panda, a cashew grower in Puri ,crops that were not fully damaged will suffer quality loss and earn lower prices because the cashew processing unit will look for excellent quality kernels.
According to Subash Panda, a cashew grower in Puri ,crops that were not fully damaged will suffer quality loss and earn lower prices because the cashew processing unit will look for excellent quality kernels.

Experts think climate change may be to blame for tea mosquito bugs attacking acres of cashew crops in Odisha. According to Sarat Chandra Behera, deputy director of the state horticulture department, thousands of cashew growers in the Ganjam district have lost crops due to the infestation.

Almost all of the cashew plants that Ramesh Sabar, a tribal farmer in Odisha's Ganjam district, had cultivated in around two hectares of land had dried up without flowering at a time when the cash crop is typically harvested.

According to Prabhu Charan Lenka, former professor of horticulture at Odisha University Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), Bhubaneswar, the tea mosquito bug (Helopeltis antonii) has been around for years but has mostly invaded cashew crops in south Indian states.

Fruits infested by the insect develop a warty appearance, and their market value nosedives, according to Lenka, a consultant with the Union Ministry of Agriculture's Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development (DCCD). According to researchers, one of the causes of the infestation's geographic shift is climate change.

Unseasonal rainfall in December-January in Odisha, when the plants flower and increasing temperatures in succeeding seasons could be to blame. He noted that the plant's usual production is roughly four to five quintals per acre. "However, because of the infestation, even one quintal of harvest per acre is unlikely this season."

According to Subash Panda, a cashew grower in the Puri district, crops that were not fully damaged will suffer quality loss and earn lower prices because the cashew processing unit will look for excellent quality kernels.

According to him, the bug has affected almost 40% of cashew plants in the state. The worst-affected districts include Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Nayagarh, Puri, Dhenkanal, Koraput, and Kendrapara, he added.

In 2022, cashew trees were planted on around 160,000 hectares of land throughout the state. Apart from private growers, the soil conservation department and the state government-owned Odisha Cashew Corporation also grow cashew.

According to Sabat, the former president of the Odisha Cashew Growers' Association, Odisha is the third-largest state in the country in terms of cashew cultivation, production, and processing, behind Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. He stated that the cashew processors could not ship the nuts out of the state because they cater to local demand.

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