whitefly infestation hits coconut orchards in Andhra Pradesh | Vijayawada News
India is the third largest coconut growing country after Indonesia and the Philippines, with a production of 1.46 crore metric tons per year. Andhra Pradesh is India’s fourth largest state – after Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu – for coconut cultivation. In the state, up to 1.23 lakh hectares of land are cultivated with coconuts, while 1.70 lakh hectares are under palm oil plantation.
The eastern and western districts of Godavari, mainly Konaseema region, have a large coconut plantation and the coconuts grown in this region are in huge demand due to the high oil content. But farmers have been facing serious problems since 2018 due to the whitefly infestation. According to horticultural scientists, the whitefly directly attacks the plant by sucking its juice and forms a white mold resembling a fungus. The yield drops dramatically and it is difficult to control the problem if it is not identified in the early stages.
MVS Nagireddy, vice president of AP Agriculture Mission, said they are focusing on methods to control infection and recover production. “The whitefly infestation started in 2018 in Tamil Nadu. It gradually spread to all states. We visited the Agricultural University of Tamil Nadu and inquired about the situation there. About 60% of Tamil Nadu’s coconut plantations have been affected. We are on alert and are developing an action plan with the Ambajipet coconut research center. Likewise, AP leads other states in oil palm cultivation with around 1.7 lakh of hectares cultivated. We have alerted the farmers and we are focusing on control measures, ”he said.
Dr T Janaki Ram, vice-chancellor of YSR University of Horticulture, said a biological control laboratory has been established on the university campus to undertake research on controlling whitefly infection in plantations. coconut and other horticultural crops. “Biocontrol methods are effective in controlling whiteflies. Farmers should focus on them instead of using chemical insecticides. They are effective and inexpensive, ”he said, adding that whitefly infection can spread to papaya and cream apple plantations.