More than eight acres of maize damaged in Yangnyer gewog

Pests have damaged eight to nine acres of maize plants belonging to about 30 households in Kharza-Leyphu chiwog, Yangnyer gewog in Trashigang.

It has been more than a month since the pest suspected to be stem borer has started affecting the corns grown by the villagers.

According to the agricultural officials in Trashigang, suspected stem borer is an insect that usually affects maize and initially produces pinholes on leaves.

One of the severely affected farmers, Sherab Zangmo, 40, has at least 50% of the maize she planted on a little more than an acre of land affected.

Although her field looks green and lush, a closer look shows pinholes on many of the maize leaves.

Meanwhile, the affected farmers are in the despair not knowing what to do as maize is a staple cereal food grown in the locality.

Another farmer, Rabgay, said all the maize plants were infested with worms and this had never happened before.

“We never knew until we started weeding,” said Rabgay. “The situation made us disheartened and we even discontinued weeding.”

He said that his family of six expected a bountiful harvest this year. “A bountiful harvest meant not having to buy additional ration from the market, which is difficult for the family to afford.”

He added that people in the locality depend on maize as the land is not feasible for paddy plantation and given the water scarcity.

According to another farmer, the insect nibbles in a way that it does not damage the plants completely, unlike the damages done by wild boars and monkeys. “It eats the plants at an early stage, which does not let the plants to grow bigger.”

With numerous holes on the leaves of the maize plants, farmers are also concerned whether they can make enough fodder for their cattle.

Although the farmers are confident that they will harvest enough to feed their family, the infestation has badly affected their opportunity to earn cash income.

Meanwhile, gewog agricultural officials said they are spraying pesticides to control the pests from spreading further.

While maize plants were affected since a month ago, the gewog agriculture office received complaints only last week.

Agricultural officials said stem borer occurs usually after a hot sunny day followed by sudden rain. “Immediately, after receiving the complaints, we sprayed pesticides to control the infections.”

Jigme Wangchen from Yangnyer, T/gang