Fall armyworm invades vegetable farms in Sri Lanka’s Matale district: report

ECONOMYNEXT – Vegetable farms in Matale district in central Sri Lanka are being invaded by the fall armyworm, a media report said after the pest caused large scale damage in more northern districts.

Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper said cabbage and knol-kol farms in Galewela in Matale are being destroyed by the pest.

The newspaper quoted Assistant Director of Agriculture in nearby Dambulla area Dilrukshi Wijenayake said samples collected from the field shows armyworm.

The pest is the larvae of a the Fall armyworm moth. It is originally from the Americas, perhaps from Chile, and has spread to Africa and then India by 2018 and is now found in Sri Lanka. Infestations have recently been reported in Myanmar.

Agriculture Minister P Harrison told parliament about 40,000 hectares had been infected but not fully damaged. About 40,000 rupees will be paid per hectare of damaged crop.

There appears to be two variants of the pest. The ‘M-strain’ which mainly attacks crops like maize, and the ‘R-strain’ which attacks rice and grasses.

The Department of Agriculture has recommended the use of spinetoram (Radiant), Spinosad (Success), Emamectin benzoate (Proclaim), etofenprox (Trebon) which act against lepidoptera species on first detection.

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