Andhra Pradesh, Telangana faced 40-80% damage to chilli crop due to pest attack

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, in Parliament, said the damage was assessed in a joint survey

New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana faced 40-80 per cent damage to the chilli crop due to pest outbreak, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar informed Parliament on Friday.

Tomar, in his written reply to the Rajya Sabha, said the damage was assessed in a joint survey conducted by a team comprising experts from the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage (DPPQS), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), State Agricultural/ Horticultural University and State Horticulture Departments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

"The joint survey observed that on an average 40-80 per cent damage to the chili crop was caused in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana," he said.

Since 'South East Asian Thrips Parvispinus' is an invasive pest species, it might have dominated/replaced the native chilli 'Thrips Scirtothrips Dorsalis' through competition, he added.

Tomar said that the change in weather/climatic conditions during the crop season might have favoured the establishment of Thrips Parvispinus and thus resulted in its sudden upsurge in the chilli ecosystem.

Absence of natural enemies of this particular invasive pest in the area of invasion for natural control of the pest species; excessive use of chemical pesticides and staggered plantings also might be the reasons for their outbreak, he said.

All these factors might have triggered the upsurge of Thrips Parvispinus in the chilli ecosystem by replacing the native chilli Thrips species, he said.

Further, most of the farmers had left the fields unattended due to severe incidence of Thrips and other pests, which has been observed as the source of inoculum for spreading of Thrips and other pathogens to the healthy fields in the vicinity, he added.

Outlining the policy interventions, the minister said it include pest survey and monitoring at district level; restoration of soil fertility in all chilli growing fields; regular monitoring of quality of pesticides including making available microbial and botanical pesticides to farmers; restricting use of chemical fertilizers and publication of extensive material for educating farmers regarding pest management in a sustainable manner.

The action plan includes promotion of cultural practices like deep summer ploughing, intercropping, clean cultivation, balanced use of fertilizers, uprooting and destruction of plant debris and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for pest control like use of bio pesticides and neem-based insecticides.

Stating that South East Asian Thrips is a polyphagous pest, Tomar said it can also grow and multiply on alternate hosts like Drumstick, Pigeon pea, Chick pea, Papaya, Mango and weed species like Parthenium, Cleome viscosa, Prosopis sp., Lantana camara, Calotropis sp., Tecoma sp. and wild solanum plants.

He said strict plant quarantine measures are in place for imported planting materials.

Plants and seeds that require post entry quarantine are regulated as per Plant Quarantine (PQ) Order 2003. Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) period is defined for specific commodities for specific periods in a confined area to prevent spread of exotic/economically important pests.

PEQ facility certification and inspection of plants grown in PEQ facilities is also done strictly as per PQ Order.

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