Getting rid of pests urgent and pressing need for Myanmar farmers

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FAW Identification Report 72

By July Moe (Myanma Alinn)

Currently in some areas of the Regions and States of the country, various pests such as that of Fall Armyworm (FAW) and Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC) (Spodoptera Mauritia)(SM) have infected the winter crop of corn and maize in the fields of Myanmar at an alarming degree and situation. Despite timely pest controls and protection have been carried out, some acres incurred damage and loss, but some winter crop of corn could have been saved.
The Plant Protection Division of the Myanma Agricultural Service (Department of Agriculture under Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation) has conducted a seminar on 5 January 2019 on the infection of pests namely Fall Armyworm (FAW) and Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC)(SM) with the collaboration of CABI (The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International) and Exeter University (The University of Exeter is a public research university in Exeter, Devon, South West England, United Kingdom) providing information on the infection of pests in some Regions and States of the country.
Locusts, armyworm, fruit flies, banana diseases, cassava diseases and wheat rusts are among the most destructive trans-boundary plant pests and diseases. Plant pests and diseases spread in three principal ways: trade or other human-migrated movement, environmental forces – weather and windborne, it is learnt.
Mostly in Shan State, Sagaing Region and Nay Pyi Taw Area, and some areas of Chin State and Kachin State are found to have the risk and possibility of infection of RSC.

Infection of Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC)
The early estimation has projected that of the high risk areas are in Shan State, Rakhine State, Chin State, Kayah State, Nay Pyi Taw Area, Sagaing Region, that of the medium risk areas are in Yangon Region and Tanintharyi Region, and that of the low risk areas are in Mandalay Region,
Magway Region, Bago Region, Ayeyawaddy Region, Mon State, Kayin State and Kachin State.
Currently, Myingyan Township in Myingyan District of Mandalay Region, Tatkon Township of Nay Pyi Taw Area, Kyaing Tong Township of Shan (East) State, Nyaugdone Township, Danuphyu Township, Zalun Township, Hinthada Township of Ayeyawaddy Region have experienced the infection of Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC) in the fields of corn and maize, according to the information released from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation.
“In these areas, the Fall Armyworm (FAW) and Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC) have infected since second week of January, and that due to the pests infection, the early and young age crops of corn and maize have been damaged, however, the matured corn crops are saved from damaged,” said farmer U Myint Zaw.
“Currently, about (2000) acres of crops have been infected with the pests. When the pests infected the areas in Zalun Township, the necessary plans for plant protection and pests control are being carried out by the Myanma Agriculture Service. Some months back, the Union Minister for Agriculture, and the Chief Minister of the Region made field trips and delivered awareness talks,” he continued.
“Moreover, various spray methods of pesticides and the plant protection techniques were disseminated, and it has achieved some benefits. In the past years, the infection of RSC could be controlled by spraying with the insecticides. However, this year the infection of Fall Armyworm (FAW) and Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC) are very hard to kill and to get rid of as they do not die through the spraying. The female moths produced eggs into insects that eat away the plants from the base, and the worst scenario is that the germs are easy to multiply, making us helpless to get rid of the pests,” farmer U Myint Zaw explained about the devastating pests.
Fall Armyworm larva vary from light tan to black with three light yellow stripes down the back. There is a wider dark stripe and a wavy yellow-red blotched stripe on each side. Larvae have four pairs of fleshy abdominal pro-legs in addition to the pair at the end of the body. Fall armyworm resembles both armyworm and corn earworm, but fall armyworm has a white inverted “Y” mark on the front of the dark head. The corn earworm has an orange-brown head, while the armyworm has a brown head with dark honeycombed markings. Fall armyworm has four dark spots arranged in a square on top of the eighth abdominal segment.

Fast spreading
The current winter corn and maize crops areas is estimated at (150,000) acres in December, and that in Myingyan Township it is infected with Fall Armyworm (FAW) and Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC), and in a few weeks time it spread to other Regions and States.
Currently, the pests have infected (100,000) acres in Ayeyawaddy Region, and they are destroying all the unripe crops as well as matured crops. The pest control tasks are required the whole year round. Such infection of pests had occurred in India and in Bangladesh in 2016.
The responsible persons of the areas and the agricultural professionals are providing necessary assistance in the prevention, protection and control of pests in their field trips.
In the infected areas by the Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC), pesticides spraying tasks through the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) have been carried out. In the uninfected areas, early plant protection measures are being undertaken, according to the Myanma Agriculture Service.
At this time of winter corn and maize season, the Fall Armyworm (FAW) and Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC) grew heavily and spread very fast, and destroyed the plants, incurring grave loss to the farmers.
The local farmers and cultivators are required to constantly check their plots whether it is likely to have the pests, and seek assistance from the local authorities and the officials in the regions and states in fighting against the pests, citing to the advice given by Deputy Director-General U Hla Myint Aung.

Feature of Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC)
Spodoptera Mauritia (SM), the lawn armyworm or paddy swarming caterpillar, is a moth of the family Noctuidae. The species was first described by Jean Baptiste Boisduval in 1833. Able to eat many types of food, it is a major pest throughout the world
The wingspan is about 40 mm. It is dark grey brown with a rusty tinge on its body. The pests could eat up (80) varieties of various crops including rice, ground nuts, vegetables and yellow colored crops, according to agronomists. The pests destroyed the corn crops very easily and the germs grew very fast and spread rapidly.
The farmers could get rid of the pests in many ways such as that of spraying strong pesticides, that of picking up by hands and clearing away, that of lighting up trap fire near the plants, that of clearing the weeds, that of turning upside down the earth in the plant areas, that of clearing away the eggs and maggots, that of sending Mantis that have enormous appetites, eating various aphids, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects when young, that of spraying strong pesticides in the morning and in the evening, according to Agricultural Officer U Saw Win.

Timely protection
The farmers are now cultivating winter corn and maize, and that Fall Armyworm (FAW) and Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC) are giving troubles to the farmers, and that the cultivators could seek assistance and help from the officials of the Myanma Agriculture Service, and that early prevention and protection could be carried out so that safe and secure condition is being assured.
Beginning fourth week of December 2018, total of (142,120) acres in Ayeyawaddy Region is recorded as sown acreage, where (136,013) acres in (15) townships of Pathein, Hinthada, Maubin and Myaungmya districts had experienced of pests infection of Fall Armyworm (FAW) and Rice Swarming Caterpillar (RSC).
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, there is possible risk of economic loss on (39,572) acres, and that (6,559) acres have been so far damaged. Therefore, getting rid of pests has become an urgent and pressing requirement for farmers in Myanmar, and stakeholders must consider it a priority.

Translated by UMT (Ahlon)

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