Mango Research Station principal scientist B. Kanaka Mahalakshmi says that they were creating awareness among the farmers in controlling the RSW.
The infestation of Rugose Spiralling Whitefly (RSW) on coconut-, oil-palm-, banana- and other plantations is noticed by the scientists in the State. The severity of the rugose whitefly infestation, which showed a downward trend in the State during 2020 reappeared in September this year. The infestation was nearly controlled in December 2019 and the following year.
According to sources, the incidence is reported in East and West Godavari and Nellore districts. The RSW has invaded crops such as coconut, oil palm, cocoa, banana, etc.
Mango Research Station (MRS) principal scientist B. Kanaka Mahalakshmi says that they were creating awareness among the farmers in controlling the RSW. Standalone by one or two farmers would not yield desired results. The farmers in entire village/area have to take up control measures, she says.
The scientists like B. V. Chalapathi Rao, Horticultural Research Station (HRS) at Amabajipeta, say that good results with I. fumosorosea can be obtained if spraying is carried out at 10-15 days interval with high jet sprayers when there are no high temperatures. Spraying operations should be initiated early in the season as and when RSW population is observed, as it can have more impact and can reduce and arrest the RSW population build-up, they say.
A view of the Rugose Spiralling Whitefly infestation of coconut orchard in Andhra Pradesh. Photo: Special arrangement
“The problem has been brought to the notice of the State government,” says M. V. S. Nagi Reddy, Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Mission vice-chairman. It was suggested to establish bio agent multiplication units under Central government sponsored schemes such as The Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna – Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied Sector Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR) and supply sufficient quantities to the farmers in order to contain the pest, he says.
Horticulture Department officials say that the yield is likely to come down by 15-20%. As part of the measures to control the spread of infestation, the government has been supplying Isaria Fumosorosea, a fungus and bio-pesticide, to farmers through the Department, they say.
Mr. Nagi Reddy says that the coconut is cultivated in 55,000 hectares in East Godavari, 25,975 hectares in West Godavari 15,685 hectares in Srikakulam and 7,769 hectares in Visakhapatnam districts. Oil palm is cultivated in 1.80 lakh hectares in the State. The need for special focus to contain the pest on a priority basis was stressed as it was causing heavy damage to important plantations in coastal areas and likely to spread to other crops, he says.
The RSW was first reported at Kadiyam in East Godavari district in the nursery gardens during late December 2016. The pest may have entered the State through infested coconut seedlings obtained from Kerala. The incidence and severity have reduced subsequently, scientists say.