LAHORE            -       With Fall Armyworm (FAW) hitting corn crop across the province, growers are looking toward Punjab Agriculture Department (PAD) to take measures for controlling the new pest.

Acknowledging presence of new pest, DG Agriculture Punjab (Extension) Dr Anjum Ali Buttar said that the government had adopted two-pronged strategy-sending samples for molecular analysis and controlling the pest by applying available pesticides. 

Mehar Nadeem, a corn farmer from Kotla Sheikh Natha (Kasur District) told this scribe that they had not spotted this pest in spring season but it was being observed in the field in the fall crop. He said that they were not in knowledge of how to tackle this pest and there was a dire need that they should be trained for its management. 

Corn is a major staple crop worldwide, Pakistani Punjab’s farmers recently reaped a good yield in spring corn but now comparatively less sowing is witnessed in the current autumn due to several reasons one of these is last year’s heat wave which devastated grains due to deceased pollen because of sudden temperature rise.

In February 2019, The Internati¬onal Maize and Wheat Impro¬vement Centre (CIMMYT) cautioned Pakistan and offered cooperation in tackling the prevalent threat of FAW in Pakistan to take steps to protect its crops from the ‘fall armyworm’ (FAW) but no productive measure had been taken and information was shared by the federal government (post 18th amendment scenario as the Ministry of Food Security is federal subject and agriculture is provincial) to the provinces and the farmers at the grass-root level which was now threatening and disturbing their maize crops which not only challenged the productivity of grains but disturbing the silage production for dairy and livestock sectors also.

“The situation this year may be out of control if the farmers are not properly advised for proper chemicals. As of now farmer don’t have much knowledge about this and are considering it as normal armyworm. But it may worsen the situation,” said Aamer Hayyat Bhandara, a progressive farmer and climate change activist.

He said that recent changes in the rains pattern might be a reason behind its increased attack as the humidity favoured this insect and the corn plant health was also not so good due to the sudden heat-waves and immediate drops in temperatures due to rains. 

Aamer claimed that this year it was almost everywhere in Punjab in spots.

DG Agriculture Punjab (Extension) Dr Anjum Ali Buttar on contact said that the department was fully cognizant of the situation. “We have taken samples from different places and sent to the department concerned for molecular analysis. We will submit a proper report after this analysis to the federal government for further headway.” He said the department had adopted a two-pronged strategy including molecular analysis and at the same time eradication of the pest through pesticides. He said the department acknowledged the existence of the pest but the government was moving carefully against this invasive species.