President instructs relevant authorities to fight Fall Army Worm (Sena caterpillar) on a war footing
President Maithripala Sirisena has given instructions to the relevant authorities to fulfill their respective duties with great commitment and an efficient manner with a war footing to control the Fall Army (Sena) caterpillar, which poses a massive threat to the agricultural crops.
The President further instructed to jointly implement a program to spray pesticide with the assistance of the public as well as the private sector and launch such a national programme with a time frame.
President Sirisena has given these instructions during a meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat, yesterday (22) on finding swift measures to face the challenges occurred in the fields of agriculture as a result of the rapid spread of Sena caterpillar.
At present several steps are being taken in this regard and under the guidance of the President, a Presidential Task force also established to supervise this program. The President pointed out the importance of taking swift decisions to control this menace by the Presidential Task Force.
The President also instructed the Deputy Minister of Mahaweli, Ajith Mannapperuma and an Additional Secretary of the Presidential Secretariat and senior representatives of the Ministry of Plantation Industries to coordinate the work of the Presidential Task Force.
In addition, the President stated that the implement awareness program for farmers and farmer organizations to educate them on the imperative need to control and eliminate this pest. He asked that the program should be implemented with the participation of the agricultural researchers and field officers of government and privet sector.
Ministers Mr. P. Harison and Mr. Daya Gamage, State Minister Mr. Amir Ali, and the secretary of Mahaweli andEnvironment Ministry Mr. Anura Disanayake, Director General of Mahaweliya, Dr. B.M.S. Dissanayake, Commissioner General of Agrarian Services and Wildlife Mr. W.M.M.B. Weerasekara, Director General of Agriculture Mr. W.M.W. Weerakoon were also present in this discussion.
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Sri Lankan authorities are behaving like pretty armatures. So far Department of Agriculture failed to make a statement. Government has not declared this as a national emergency! There are no credible awareness programs. Government has not banned transporting of agricultural materials which can help to spread the Fall-army caterpillar. Instead people like defense secretary making statements about war-heroes and asking terror supporters to arrest them! Remember the insect attacked Coconut trees in mid 70s? Then people like Dr. Pethiyagoda in Coconut Research institute took the lead and controled pol=kuruminiya using biological control.
I dont know why this pest is referred to as army worm when this caterpillar is only a phase of the lifecyle of moth that is described as Chilo partellus nkwhose lifecycle is briefly descibed on the attached link. he moth lays the egs on the leaf and after incubation produces the caterpillar that eats its way into the stem then pupate eventually to turn into the moth.
The moth has a wide range of alternate hosts besides maize sorghums and millets that are of economic importance.
If remeber right entomologist Dr Jinasiri Fernando while working at MahaIlluppallama did detailed study of this pest and associated problem. This pest is found throughout the tropics and is considered a serious pest and recommende strategies to control this pest both agronomic and chemical methods.
As is the problem has epidemic proportions and it would take a couple of seasons to bring the problem under control and the Department of Agriculture should mobilise resources resorces to bring it under control fot it is beyond the scope of the farmers now!
Thank you Sama and Amarakoon.
Your contribution through Onlanka on this matter exceeds that of the whole of the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe Government and Opposition put together.
Hon P Harrison is the current Minister for Agriculture.
Guess he is busy politicking about forthcoming Presidential, Parliamentary and Provincial Elections and doing nothing about the threat of famine faced by the Nation.