DIBRUGARH, Dec 11 � Papaya Mealy Bug (PMB), Paracoccus marginatus � a highly invasive exotic pest has already made its entry to our country via Sri Lanka.
This pest has damaged crops to the tune of Rs 1000 crore annually to papaya cultivation in South Indian States and Maharashtra, according to Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Dibrugarh.
Chemical insecticides being ineffective against it due to presence of a protective wax layer around its body, biological agents have been tried effectively in different regions around the globe. PMB, being a typical polyphagous pest, is capable of infesting about 55 plant species, including many crops of economic importance. Alarmingly, this has been reported recently from neighbouring State Tripura.
Considering its damage potential, an awareness programme was organised by Krishi Vigyan Kendra at the District Agricultural Office here to sensitise the agricultural extension workers. Arup Kumar Sarma, Subject Matter Specialist (Plant Protection) who had an experience of a specialised training programme on �Classical Biological Control of Papaya Mealy Bug� at National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects (NBAII), Bangalore shared his experience and delivered a lecture on various aspects on biology, nature of damage, host range, damage potential, natural enemies and management tactics for the pest.
Notably, the pest being reported from Tripura can invade Assam at any point of time, according to Arup Kumar Sarma. The pest invades new area through infested fruits. �There is every possibility that trucks carrying infested papaya in South India, if and when they transport anything to our region like fish or any items, may carry the pest to Assam,� Sarama said.
The problem would be more severe if PMB gains its entry to our State and invade our main crop like tea. Sarma also explained the initiatives taken by NBAII, Bangalore in collaboration with United State Department of Agriculture � Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services (USDA-APHIS).
NC Chaw, Sub-Divisional Agricultural Officer, Dibrugarh and Babita Sarma, Subject Matter Specialist (Home Science) were also present during the programme.