The Department of Agriculture has launched a campaign to create awareness among farmers in the district on precautions to be taken to prevent infestation of Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) for maize crop in wake of the possibilities of extension of the area of its cultivation in this kharif season owing to enhancement in price and scanty rainfall.
For the kharif season, the department has set a target to undertake cultivation of paddy — a water-intensive crop — on 1.02 hectare land in the district, and maize — a non-water intensive crop — on 55,000 hectare. The possibilities of large number of paddy growers opting for cultivation of maize are high owing to the scanty rain in the district this year so far.
From June 1 to 14, the district received 56 mm rain against the average rain of 390 mm during this period. The deficiency of rain is around 85% during this period owing to which agricultural activities have faced a setback. It may be mentioned here that in 2018, maize crop on more than 1,500 hectares in the district was infested with Fall Armyworm.
Kiran Kumar M., Joint Director, Department of Agriculture, told The Hindu that the work of levelling and tilling of land for maize cultivation has commenced in Shivamogga and Shikaripur taluks. Owing to the sluggish start to the monsoon, farmers in Sorab, Sagar and Hosanagar taluks who cultivate paddy under the rain-fed method, may switch to maize that requires less water in comparison. The department has conducted awareness programmes at all hoblis in maize-growing areas on precautions to be taken to prevent Fall Armyworm infestation.
He said that the farmers have been directed to complete maize sowing by the end of June as delayed sowing makes the crop vulnerable to Fall Armyworm infestation. Farmers have also been advised to opt for inter-cropping of toor or green gram with maize and to use chemical fertilisers in a judicious manner. Pamphlets bearing information on the measures to be taken to avoid the infestation have been distributed among farmers through gram panchayats, Raitha Samparka Kendras, and through private fertiliser dealers, he added.
The price of maize that was at ₹1,300 per quintal in October 2018 has escalated to around ₹2,200 per quintal now. Mr. Kumar said that, the lucrative price maize is fetching is another reason that is luring the farmers to take up its cultivation in this kharif season.