DAMAGE TO CROP: A papaya fruit with high infestation of the Mealy bug in Coimbatore. —
COIMBATORE: A one-day awareness campaign on papaya Mealy bug management was held at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) here on Tuesday.
This is in pursuance of the meeting held among the Secretaries of Agriculture, Sericulture and Horticulture at the university recently detailing the harmful effects of the pest and ways to manage it.
More than 100 extension personnel from Erode, Coimbatore, Salem, Tirupur, Namakkal, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Sivaganga and Thuthukudi attended the programme.
Inaugurating the campaign, P. Subbian, Registrar of the university, outlined the status of the pest infestation in the State and stressed the need for early detection and management.
Highlighting the severity of the economic loss caused by the pest, he urged the extension personnel of Agriculture, Horticulture and Sericulture departments and scientists of TNAU to act on a war footing to control the spread of the infestation.
E.I. Jonathan, Director, Centre for Plant Protection, TNAU, said climate change had a significant influence on the outbreak of the pest.
According to him climate change enhanced the temperature and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which altered the physiology of the crop predisposing them to the pest attack.
Cautioning the officials and scientists against similar outbreaks in the future, he stressed the need for comprehensive surveillance and monitoring programme for early detection and effective management of the pest. A presentation on the lifecycle and management of the Mealy bug was made.
The following strategies were recommended: removing alternate weed hosts, monitoring pest activity and incidence regularly, pruning severely affected parts of the crop regularly, conserving natural enemies, using botanical insecticides like neem oil, fish oil and rosin soap, etc., for starting stages and using spray profenophos or dimethoate with water and sufficient quantity of sticking agent for advanced stages, and avoiding repetition of the same insecticide.
The extension personnel were taken to the field and were also given CDs and literature on the pest to be distributed to the farmers in their area.