A wheat disease which is spreading in West Bengal at an alarming rate has forced state government to ban cultivation in two districts bordering Bangladesh for two years.
A wheat disease which is spreading in West Bengal at an alarming rate has forced state government to ban cultivation in two districts bordering Bangladesh for two years. Wheat blast which is caused by a fungus, causes ripe wheat to turn whitish and dry up. The disease has severe effects and can leave a land barren for two years or more. In a very short time, this can infect a very large tract of land and once it strikes, the entire field has to be burnt and the ash disposed to prevent a return the next season, Indian Express reports.
First identified in Brazil in 1985, it struck last year in Bangladesh, where crops over 20,000 hectares were burnt. In Bengal, symptoms similar to wheat blast was first discovered in February this year leading to burning of crops over 1,000 acres in the border districts of Murshidabad and Nadia. Other states like, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam and Meghalaya have also been alerted from the spread of this disease by the Centre. BSF has been sensitised against wheat grain entering from Bangladesh.
Asish Banerjee, state Agriculture Minister said that the only way to stop this is to stop cultivating the crop. Steps are being taken to prevent the spread of this disease to any other state, he added. “We have held a number of meetings with Bengal government authorities, and representatives of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and other states were present,” P K Chakraborty, additional director general (plant protection), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, said from Delhi. The Centre is also trying to develop blast-resistant strains. “Farmers should not panic. It is yet to be confirmed,” said Gyanendra P Singh, director, Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research, Karnal.