Thursday January 23, 2020
Home India ‘Red Ro...

‘Red Rot’ Infestation In Sugarcane Leads India Into Trouble

fungus infestation occurred mainly in the water-logged areas in central Uttar Pradesh, where the Co-0238 variety was not recommended.

0
//
Agriculture
Cane growers in Uttar Pradesh are slowly shifting to other varieties such as Co-0118 as the recovery rate of Co-0238 has gone down due to the infestation, Pixabay

The famed Co-0238 high-yielding sugarcane variety that has placed India on the verge of becoming the world’s largest sugar producer has run into trouble due to a ‘Red Rot’ infestation, forcing the government to hunt for a new strain to check a possible slump in output in the coming years.

Coimbatore-based Sugar Breeding Institute (ICAR-SBI), a constituent of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has started working on a project to develop a variety that will address the problem of the fungal disease besides increasing cane yield and recovery rate (percentage of sugar to sugarcane).

The new variety is being developed at the institute’s Karnal-based centre, which may take up to three years to become ready for commercial use, ICAR-SBI Director Bakshi Ram told IANS.

“Broadly, there are three characters we are working on. These are increasing cane yield, resolving the Red Rot problem and improving sugar recovery. But focus in the new variety is on the Red Rot issue. It is welcoming if other two characters also gets better,” he said.

sugarcane
Sugar production in India in 2018-19 is expected to improve on the previous year’s record, which can make the country largest global producer, Pixabay

This fungal infection is said to be the most threatening sugarcane disease, commonly termed its cancer.

The area under Co-0238 has increased at a faster rate in subtropical regions after it was released in 2009-10, and now covers 1.19 million hectares.

In 2017-18, this variety made for a sugar recovery rate of over 13 per cent or production of 12.05 million tonnes in Uttar Pradesh alone as against the total production of around 32.25 million tonnes in the country.

Sugar production in India in 2018-19 is expected to improve on the previous year’s record, which can make the country largest global producer, provided Brazil continues with its decision to earmark more cane for producing ethanol.

Infestation of ‘Red Rot’ was first seen in 2016 in some pockets but its rapid proliferation has caused great worry to farmers, an official of the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories (NFCSF) said.

sugarcane
Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has started working on a project to develop a variety that will address the problem of the fungal disease besides increasing cane yield and recovery rate,pixabay

“Cane growers in Uttar Pradesh are slowly shifting to other varieties such as Co-0118 as the recovery rate of Co-0238 has gone down due to the infestation. We think this variety may be phased out in the next four-five years,” said NFCSF Managing Director Prakash Naiknavare.

Bakshi Ram said the fungus infestation occurred mainly in the water-logged areas in central Uttar Pradesh, where the Co-0238 variety was not recommended.

Also Read: UN food agency Pushes ‘Smart Crops’ as Rice Alternative to defeat Hunger in Asia

“The infestation occurred due to plantation of the Co-0238 variety with other susceptible cane varieties in the water-logged areas,” he pointed out.

Replantation of with new Co-0238 seeds can provide relief to farmers and this advisory has been sent to all sugar mills in the state, he added. (IANS)

Next Story

New Locust Swarms Threaten Agriculture in Ethiopia

New Swarms of Locusts Threaten Crops, Food Security in Ethiopia

0
Locust Ethiopia
An Ethiopian boy attempts to fend off desert locust as they fly in a farm on the outskirt of Jijiga in Somali region, Ethiopia. VOA

A new round of locust swarms has hit Ethiopia and is again threatening crops and food security, say agricultural officials.

Dereje Hirpha, the Oromia region’s head of locust control, tells VOA’s Horn of Africa Service that the new generation of locusts was first reported weeks ago in the Raya district and has since spread across thousands of hectares in 40 districts of the region.

The fast-moving swarm is threatening crops in a country where more than 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood.

Locust Outbreak
A Samburu boy uses a wooden stick to try to swat a swarm of desert locust filling the air, as he herds his camel. VOA

Similar locusts wave hit Ethiopia a year ago.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it believes heavy rainfall in East Africa has contributed to the growth of locust swarms in the area.

This new generation is arriving from Somaliland, while breeding has continued on both sides of the Red Sea, and in Sudan and Eritrea, according to experts.

USAID plans to work with the U.N. Food  and Agriculture Organization to prevent and control the spread of locusts, its office of communication says.  The agency is training more than 300 pest experts and providing 5,000 sets of protective equipment for locust fighters.

Hirpha says authorities are spraying the affected areas from planes and vehicles on the ground to ward off the pests.

Locals, meanwhile, are engaged in their own combat operation.  When a locust swarm approaches, residents try to scare them away by blowing whistles, drumming empty buckets, setting fires, and shooting into the air.

Locust chasers take position in green areas to disperse the swarms before the descend.

Locust Ethiopia
A man tries to catch locust while standing on a rooftop. VOA

“From a distance the swarm looks like a brown cloud, a sandstorm,” says Sora Kura, one of the chasers in the Borana zone.

The swarm follows the wind direction and is also guided by hairy antenna on their heads that detect smells and other signals of food, Hirpha says. According to the FAO, the swarms can move up to 150 kilometers per day.

USAID says the swarms will likely spread next to southwest Ethiopia and northwestern Kenya, and may enter Uganda and South Sudan.

Desert locusts can comfortably live in a warm, sandy environment like Eastern Ethiopia and Somaliland, Hirpha says.

Also Read- Ozone-Depleting Substance Causes Half of Arctic Warming

Ethiopia has to report any assessment of the crops lost to the pests.  In 2003 and 2005, locust outbreaks in more than 20 countries, mainly in North Africa, cost farmers $3.6 billion, according to the FAO. (VOA)