May 5: Maize planted in 67 districts across the country have been overwhelmed by fall armyworms. According to the Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Management Center, armyworms have attacked newly planted maize in all the districts of the Terai as well as some high hill districts. The pest especially damages crops like maize, wheat, and paddy. Last year, the pest had damaged crops in 63 districts.
Sahadev Humagain, head of the Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Management Center, said that they have not been able to get the details of the extent of damage done to the maize crop planted in 67 districts. He informed that it was difficult to collect the details of the damage due to the lack of sufficient manpower.
However, for the control and prevention of outbreak, the district-based agricultural knowledge centre and technicians from the local bodies have been trained and mobilized. It is also said that the centre is working to spread public awareness on armyworm outbreak control measures through various media.
Entrepreneurs have said that the country has sufficient pesticides for pest control and prevention. However, transportation is a bit inconvenient due to the ongoing prohibition order. Currently, the demand for pesticides has surged in Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Chitwan, Birgunj, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, among other districts.
Experts say that farmers and technicians have problems in controlling this insect even though they have received training about it. These insects are especially active between February to August. But in some Terai districts, these insects are active throughout the year, inform agronomists.
Experts say that since this insect has adapted to Nepal's climate, it cannot be completely eradicated from the country. However, it can be controlled by being precautious and paying attention from the very beginning.
According to Humagain, head of the centre, special attention should be given to healthy seeds, healthy soil, and balanced irrigation while planting crops to avoid pest infestation. He said that as the larvae of this insect would affect the crop more, it would be appropriate to kill the larvae using the recommended pesticides.