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Mystery worms attack potato harvest in Thakurgaon

  • Published at 04:41 pm March 27th, 2021
Potato worms photo
The dark coloured worm is reportedly responsible for destroying potatoes in more than a hundred bighas in Sadar upazila of Thakurgaon Dhaka Tribune

Farmers Azad, Jabbar, Belal, and Azam from Taratbari said the pest attack was so severe that it was destroying potatoes on hundreds of bighas in a single night

The attack of mysterious worms on potatoes during the harvest season has left farmers and agricultural officers baffled in Thakurgaon. 

It is being reported that potatoes in about 400 bighas of land belonging to 100 farmers in Purba Begunbari, Shahpara, and Taratbari areas of Sadar upazila have come under attack by this unknown worm.

According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, potatoes were planted on 28,515 hectares of land in the district. And farmers have produced about 600,000 tons of potatoes this season.

Currently, potatoes are being sold in the wholesale market at a price of Tk9-10 per kg. As there are still many potatoes left in the field, traders and farmers are worried that the price will drop drastically given the new crisis.

This is the first time that such a problem has been reported in the region. Farmers say the worms burrow into the potatoes, leaving holes that lead to rot and give access to diseases. The worms can attack other root vegetables as well.

Saidul Haque, an affected farmer, said that he had grown Granola potatoes on his 5 bigha of land. “The yield this year has been as expected but the potatoes in half of an acre have been damaged in the pest attack. Now I doubt if I’ll be able to break even.”

Farmers Azad, Jabbar, Belal, and Azam from Taratbari said the pest attack was so severe that it was destroying potatoes in hundreds of bighas in a single night. They are now forced to spray pesticides on their harvested potatoes in an attempt to beat back the worms.

Sirajul Islam, acting deputy director of the Thakurgaon Department of Agricultural Extension, said: “Initially, we think it could be wireworms. They are active mainly at night and hide in the soil or debris during the day.”

He added: “The way farmers are spraying pesticides now poses serious risks to public health. The toxicity in these potatoes can last up to 1.5 weeks, which when consumed will cause sickness.”

Field employees are being sent out to suggest alternative measures to farmers, he said, adding it was advisable that farmers gather their potatoes in the field and hang mosquito nets around them to protect the crop from insect attacks. 

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