Blast disease affects paddy crop in Sanguem, Quepem, Bicholim

PANAJI: Blast disease has affected the paddy crop in Sanguem, Quepem, Bicholim and parts of the Salcete taluka, with the Sanguem taluka being the worst hit by the disease.

Official at the Directorate of Agriculture informed that around 5-7 per cent of the paddy crop has been affected by the blast disease in the state and early detection has prevented the disease from spreading out.

The official informed that the disease is caused due to cold weather conditions and paddy crop close to hilly terrains gets mostly affected.

As per the information available, in Sanguem almost 20-25 per cent of the paddy crop has been affected by the blast disease while in Quepem around 10-15 per cent of the crop has been affected.

The official said that the survey in various parts of the state is still in progress hence the exact damage is yet to be ascertained.

He said that this year the paddy crop has been the worst hit due to the inconsistent weather conditions adding cold and foggy weather conditions help the disease to spread fast.

He further said if proper precautions are taken, the disease can be controlled and added the farmers should not use urea-based fertilisers as they only help in spreading the disease.

Further, he said that the fields should be kept as dry as possible and crop should be sprayed with pesticides to control the spread of the disease.

He said that the blast disease can infect paddy at all growth stages and all aerial parts of plant (leaf, neck and nodes); the crop develops small specks on leaves which subsequently enlarg into spindle-shaped spots with ashy centre. In severe cases of infestation - entire crop bears a blasted or burnt appearance - hence the name ‘blast.’

The assistant zonal agriculture officer of Sanguem, Mr Shariff Furtado, informed that the crop has been worst hit at Vaddem, Curpem, Rivona, Colomba, Kevona and efforts are on to bring the disease under control and that the zonal agriculture office is continuously monitoring the disease to prevent it from spreading.

Paddy varieties of Jyothi and Karzat-3 have been predominantly affected while there has been no much damage to Jaya variety by the disease.

The directorate of agriculture has made available free packets of Tricyclazole, a fungicide, to control the paddy blast. Packets are available with ZAO, Sanguem.

Further farmers can also avail of subsidy on purchase of the fungicide from registered dealers, the official informed.

While the zonal agriculture officer at Quepem, Mr Shivram Gaonkar, informed that the department is continuously monitoring the situation in the taluka with villages of Xeldem, Xelvon and Kakoda being the worst hit.

Mr Gaonkar further said the surveying process is still in progress hence the exact damage is yet to be ascertained. He, however, said the damage to the crop is roughly 10 to 15 per cent.

He also informed that the department has placed orders with the dealers to provide the pesticide and that they are also in continuous contact with the farmers.

He further said the damage is relatively less as the transplantation of the saplings is still in progress in
many places.