There was a worry that chilli farmers from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and other states might move to other crops as a severe thrips attack in chilli crops in these states has seriously affected the crop yield and the chilli farmers are highly worried about the crop loss, which will add to their financial burden. In order to chalk out ways to address the issue, a Chilli Task Force Committee held a meeting with scientists and chilli crop experts on Wednesday.
The crop experts and scientists underlined the need for a coherent and confluent approach to deal with the attack from invasive pest Thrips parvispinus in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and other states. They emphasized on developing advisories for farmers on Good Agriculture Practices, and recommended low-cost affordable materials like blue sticky trap, cultivation of short duration chilli varieties, so that farmers can survive the pest attack till a firm strategy is jointly prepared by the line departments and institutions.
The major reasons for the serious infestation by invasive thrips were identified as the indiscriminate use of pesticides, excessive application of nitrogenous fertilizers, October-November rains, followed by hot and humid conditions which played a role in the triggering of thrips, replacement of common chilli thrips Scirtothrips dorsalis by an invasive species - Thrips parvispinus.
During the deliberations, the representative of the Andhra Pradesh agricultural department mentioned that the presence of thrips are now found in mango plantations also, which might affect the yield. It was pointed out that in the fields where the infested chilli crops were removed and Bengal Gram was grown, the latter crop also got infested with the thrips.
The Karnataka horticultural department mentioned that in major chilli growing belts in the state -- Bellary and Raichur -- the fruit rotting is the main issue and farmers have not been much affected by the thrips attack, though it is equally damaging to the chilli crop. The Spices Board Director mentioned that due to the fruit rotting, the Board has received complaints from the chilli manufacturers that during the value addition process, the final chilli product is losing its colour, which might affect the export of chillis from the country.
Citing all the observations made during the meeting, the Chilli Task Force Committee chairman asked the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) and the Spices Board to conduct joint training programmes to impart knowledge on Good Agricultural Practices. They should emphasise on the judicious use of pesticides, use of Integrated Pest Management techniques, adoption of good hygienic practices in the fields to prevent and withstand the pest as well as disease attack.
The Chairman also asked the two institutes to draw chilli samples from the market yards and test the quality to analyse and record how the pest and disease attack is affecting the quality of chilli as well as for recording the seriousness of pesticide residue in the final produce due to indiscriminate usage of pesticides by farmers.
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