JORHAT, Sept 13 - Swarms of caterpillars or armyworms damaged 1600 hectares of paddy cultivation at different locations of Majuli district, a government report stated today.
The report stated that 3010 farmers� families were affected by the pernicious attacks of pests in the district. Though the farmers started cultivation in their paddy fields in the aftermath of the devastating floods, the pests posed a threat to the cropland of the entire river-island.
Worst-affected areas have been identified as chelek gaon in Namoni Majuli, Guwal gaon, Bali Chapori, Bhokot Chapori, Kordoi Guri, Bhalukmora, Phutuki in Garamur, Jengrai, Phuloni, Ratanpur, Kathoni Aati. Agriculture officials said that an epidemic-like situation occurred in Namoni Majuli.
Farmers said that though pesticides were sprayed during the past some days, the worms could not be controlled as the heavy rainfall at night washed away all the pesticides. However, several villagers opposed the idea of spraying pesticides as they believe the worms to be some supernatural objects, which must be appeased only by prayers to reduce the disaster.
�We are facing serious problems as several villagers never allow us to spray the chemicals in the paddy fields. They have the deep-rooted belief that all those worms can be controlled only through prayers,� said a gram sevak of Majuli.
Government report stated that two agricultural development officers and nine village-level agricultural extension workers were deployed to guide the farmers in the pest-control process. According to the report, 515 hectares of the affected areas have already been treated in the river-island.