How to contain rice blast disease in farms
• Over 20ha Affected In Bauchi •Disease Capable Of Causing 60 To 100% Losses
• We Are Compiling Extent Of Damage-Yusuf •No Cause For Alarm-RIFAN
The invasion of rice farms by Blast disease is sending panic among rice farmers, as huge financial losses are being recorded.Added to this, is the setback the development would have on targets regarding the country’s self-sufficiency dream in rice production.By weekend over 20 hectares (ha) of rice plantation had been destroyed in Bauchi State alone according to official sources, while documentation is on within the state to know the extent of damage.Reports from the State Agricultural Development Authority (BSADP), confirmed that significant hectares of farms were affected across the state.
Findings show that the disease, caused by an Ascomycete fungus called Magnaporthe Oryzae, is generally considered the most deadly disease of rice worldwide because of its extensive distribution and destructiveness under favourable conditions. It is known to cause approximately 60 to 100 per cent yield losses.
It is much more damaging to rice and it is harder to detect and eradicate because it has a dispersal capacity of over 2,000km per annum. It might occur due to combination of ecological and climatic factors, such as weather patterns, mono cropping, introduction of new species and pests migration.
Rice blast can affect most of the rice plants with the exception of the roots. The fungus can infect plants at any growth stage. Symptoms can be either lesions or spots; their shape, colour and size, depending on varietal resistance, environmental conditions and the age of the lesions.
The pathogen infects and produces lesions on the following parts of the rice plant: leaf (leaf blast), leaf collar (collar blast), culm, culm nodes, panicle neck node (neck rot) and panicle (panicle blast).Currently, farmers in Ayaya near Adabda in Gamawa Local Government Area of Bauchi State affected, as plantations are ravaged.
The District Head of Gamawa, Alhaji Adamu Abdulkadir Dahuwa, who is a victim, according to reports, said the disease, noticed in the area in the last four weeks, had destroyed about 20 ha of rice farms, in the current dry season farming.“I detected the disease in my farm late May when the crops was ripe and when the dry season raised hopes of decent harvest. It is very difficult to assess the extent of damage to yields as the crops are at varying stages of growth.
“This is an alien pest because we have never recorded such pests in the last four years we have been carrying out irrigated farming in the affected areas.”Though reports had it that the disease was first identified in the state over 20 years ago, findings show that in 2014, the disease ravaged rice plantations in some states. One of the states where huge losses were recorded was Gombe, as rice farms at the Upper Benue irrigation area in Dadin Kowa, dropped yields in that farming season, recording losses.
Close to 20 of the 77 ha of the Dadin Kowa Upper Benue irrigation farmlands were affected, with severe outbreak of leaf blast, which caused stunting and the development of small panicles and early infection of neck nodes, resulting in white head and yield loss.When contacted, Chairman, Bauchi State Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Yahaya Adamu Yusuf, who confirmed the development, however, told The Guardian he couldn’t give the extent of damage in the state, till he gets full report from the council areas.
“I have being to Gamawa and saw the extent of damage. I have sent a circular to farmers to report the extent of the incident in their areas. I travelled and just returned, when I get the reports, I will be in a better position to give you full details of the incident in the state.”But the national Deputy President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Segun Atto, allayed fears of Nigerians, saying, “There is no cause for alarm.”
“The invasion of the disease doesn’t portend any danger, it is a normal phenomenon for any disease to arise, it is now left for farmers to contain it, by doing the necessary things at the right time. There is one thing we need to do in the country, which is supporting our local farmers on how to apply chemicals, how to fumigate and how to ensure that when such a thing happens, how do we contain it as soon as possible
“This is the responsibilities of extension officers, but it is rather unfortunate that in most cases we don’t have extension officers that will help our farmers to overcome diseases. When you see insects, pests on the farms, they are looking for what to eat, it’s the responsibility of the farmer to prevent them from damaging your farm. There is no way farmers will not experience this blast, insects, rodents, even birds, but you must contain them because it’s normal thing. There is no cause for alarm.
“The development is actually posing serious setback to food production but from the beginning when your crop starts germinating, that is when you don’t need to leave your field, if you see anything strange, you contain it before it spreads, put necessary measures in place.”Atto said the disease could be eradicated with the spraying of agrochemicals on the field.
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