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India - Pests destroy crops in Dharwad district, farmers in hassle

Farmers in do not seem to get respite from crisis. First, it was the which hit the . Now, it is the pest that is haunting them. Scanty rainfall during the kharif season had played a spoilsport as farmers could not get good yield and incurred huge crop loss.

During the , heavy rainfall in September signaled improvement in the situation and farmers went for sowing, expecting to compensate to some extent the losses they suffered during kharif. However, this was not to be as pests attacked standing cotton, and. Farmers in Uppinbetageri have been struggling hard to protect their crops which are being damaged by these root-feed pests.

The recent rains helped farmers immensely to grow Bengal gram and wheat, the major crops in rabi season in Dharwad taluk. Now, as the seeds have germinated, a new variety of pest called “”, has been eating away crops, causing large-scale destruction.

The fungus naturally grows in the soil and feeds on the roots of the crops, thereby damaging the crop completely. Even after spraying pesticides, it is difficult to control the pest menace, farmers say.

Veerupaksha Ayatti, a farmer in Uppinbetageri, Dharwad taluk, said that “donne hulu” has become a nightmare for hundreds of farmers who have grown Bengal gram and wheat. “These pests have already damaged more than 50 acres of field where Bengal gram is grown and have even started to attack wheat fields. Catching these pests and cleaning the fields has become a draconian task,” he said.

During the past four years, the region did not get any rain and the financial condition of the farmers had worsened. After taking crop loans and encouraged by the early rains in rabi season, many farmers went for Bengal gram and wheat sowing. He said that the officials of the agriculture department have to help farmers in containing the pest.

Already, the agriculture sector is ailing due to shortage of farm labourers.

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