Worm invasion destroys 335 acres cassava

By Ariti Jankie South Bureau

An invasion of hornworm has destroyed over 335 acres of cassava under cultivation.

Affected farmers contracted by the Trinidad and Tobago Agri-Business Association (TTABA) to produce cassava has been spraying the fields in an efforts to eradicate the pest.

Farmer Dipnarine Ramsarup of Freeport said that in his 41 years of farming, this was his worst nightmare.

"The worms began eating the leaves, then the skin off the sticks," he said.

He said 12 acres recently planted were "totally destroyed" while efforts were being made to save 55 acres from destruction.

Ramsarup recently invested $60,000 in machinery and planned to harvest 500,000 pounds of cassava early next year.

"I am stunned," he said.

He said he invested $250,000 in this year's production and planned to sell at $1.85 a pound to TTABA.

The Agriculture Ministry stated yesterday that a treatment programme for the containment and possible eradication of the hornworm has been developed.

"The first step in the treatment is to boom spray cassava fields with special pesticides. TTABA will then engage suppliers to provide bio-pest control formulas for complete eradication" the ministry stated in a release.

Farmer Glen Beckles of Rio Claro said that he had been spraying his field in an attempt to save 20 acres from ruin. "This is the first time I am experiencing this problem," he said.

Farmer Juman Mohammed said that his fields were spared so far. "I have planted seven acres so far and I hesitate to continue planting," he said.

Farmers in Caparo, Todds Road, Rio Claro and Freeport have been affected.

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