JORHAT, Aug 31 - Due to the frequent change of the agro-climatic conditions in the wake of incessant rainfall in July and prolonged heat in August, the tea industry of the State is facing a tough challenge as swarms of insecticide-resistant pests like helopeltis and looper caterpillars have destroyed large quantities of green leaves in several tea gardens of the State.
Since the past few weeks, pernicious attacks of loopers on tea bushes and shade trees have caused serious problems at the 175-year-old Cinnamara Tea Estate and many other gardens of Jorhat district, while the attacks of pests like helopeltis and green fly have already hit the expected level of green leaf production in several gardens.
Data received from the Tea Research Association (TRA) and many of its non-member gardens reveal that many gardens of Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Golaghat and Sivasagar lost huge quantities of crops in July this year due to the attacks of pests, which could not be controlled through the permitted pesticides on account of excessive rainfall.
�The crop harvested for the month of July 2016 was lower in all the three sub-areas compared to last year: Jorhat (- 0.85%), Golaghat (-1.20%) and Sonari Nazira (- 11.89%). The total crop of the South Bank region for the month of July 2016 was lower by 4.34% compared to the month of last year,� the TRA�s findings stated.
Asked whether they took up necessary measures to prevent the pernicious attacks of pests, the managerial staff of many gardens said that most of the pests developed their resistance due to the frequent climatic changes and therefore, it was impossible to control them properly through the use of permitted pesticides of Plant Protection Code (PPC) , which was prescribed by the Tea Board of India.
�In our areas, loopers became so resistant that it became difficult to control their attacks through the permitted pesticides. Even the leaves of the shade trees were also eaten by them,� said a tea garden manager.
Loopers caused a major problem in the Cinnamara Tea Estate and some other gardens of the district where normal production of green leaves went down considerably.
Scientists found that insects like helopeltis caused serious problems in several gardens of Jorhat, Golaghat, Sonari and Nazira, which ultimately decreased the production of green leaves in July this year.