December 12, 2021 3:47:57 am
A NEW species of insect is damaging the chilli crop in several states in south India. Thrips Parvispinous, an invasive insect from Indonesia first seen in 2015, has spread rapidly, affecting chilli crop in nearly 9 lakh acres in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Scientists at Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University said the infestation is also seen in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. “All the places where chilli is grown is infested by this species…The infestation is so severe that we found 20-25 insects on each bud or flower,’’ said Dr R Jagadeeshwar, Director of Research, at the university. Officials in both states said they were awaiting final recommendations from scientists of Institute of Horticulture Research, Bengaluru, who visited both states recently.
A team of scientists from Prof Jayashankar University and IIHR, Bengaluru, also visited several fields and gave suggestions to farmers to tackle the infestation.
“Due to excessive use of pesticides, the insect has developed resistance…It has spread to vegetable crops, including drumstick trees also, and has been seen on cotton plants at some places…The quality and yield of chilli crop will be affected this season,’’ Dr Jagadeeshwar said.
Farmers in Warangal and Khammam in Telangana, and in Guntur, Prakasam and Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh have uprooted the infested crop and sown alternative crops such as Bengal gram, Horticulture Department officials in both the states said.
Dr T V K Singh, former Dean of Agriculture at Prof Jayashankar University, said the infestation flared up from the first week of November. “Initially, it was mistaken for mites and farmers used wrong pesticides which led to the flare-up. This new species of Thrips arrived in papaya from Indonesia in 2015. No systematic research has been done on it so far. It needs a lot of study to gain control over the infestation,’’ he said.
Telangana Deputy Director of Horticulture K Venugopal, who accompanied the team of scientists, said Thrips infestation was extensive in all the areas they visited. “We also observed mite infestation, and viral diseases. Farmers were using fungicides and pesticides in excessive quantities without realising that it was helping the insect,” he said.
In Andhra Pradesh, Additional Director (Horticulture) M Venkateshwarlu said chilli crop in Guntur, Prakasam, Krishna and Kurnool district were hit by Thrips. “The problem was severe in Guntur but we launched a drive as early as November’s first week, asking farmers not to use too much pesticide and recommended use of neem oil and neem cakes. Very little is known about this new invasive species and it requires research,’’ he said.
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