Government to pay compensation to farmers for crop losses due to caterpillar infestation

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The government has taken measures to provide relief to the farmers for the crop damage caused by the fall armyworm (Sena caterpillar).

The Minister of Agriculture, P. Harrison said the Ministry of Agriculture has allocated a sum of Rs 50 million to compensate for the damage caused by the caterpillar infestation.

The maize and sugar cane cultivation in Anuradhapura, Ampara and Monaragala has been badly damaged by due to the caterpillar infestation.

Minister P. Harrison engaged in a tour of the Nachchaduwa area in Anuradhapura today to firsthand observe the infestation and evaluate the damage to the crops, especially paddy fields.

Speaking to media following the tour, the Minister said the Agriculture Ministry has taken steps to control the fall armyworm infestation by natural as well as chemical methods and has introduced three types of chemicals.

Secretary to the Agriculture Ministry KDS Ruwanchandra said Sri Lanka as well as other countries has not been able to completely eliminate the fall armyworm infestation but the insect can be controlled with the chemicals introduced by the Ministry and the Ministry is taking the maximum effort to prevent the caterpillar infestation.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in the larval stage, the FAW causes damage to crops, feeding on more than 80 plant species. Although the caterpillar primarily attacks maize, it can also destroy rice and sorghum as well as cotton and some vegetables and up to 1000 acres in one day.

Also the moth can fly up to 100 km per night and the female moth can lay up to 200 eggs at one time. The suppression of the insect was a challenge to every country they were reported, due to their ability to quickly adapt to insecticides.

The Agriculture Department recommends a combined application of chemical and natural methods as soon as the caterpillar infestation is observed.

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