'Parthenium' weed destroys agricultural lands in NEP

[TamilNet, Sunday, 17 February 2002, 19:41 GMT]
The deadly weed of Parthenium is now spreading fast in the Tamil dominated Northeast province in Sri Lanka leading to loss of crop yield up to fifty percent, causing retardation of crop growth and skin disorders to people, provincial agricultural experts said. The first appearance of this weed was noted in 1988 near sites mainly at the School of Agriculture when occupied by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) at Vavuniya in the northern province. The IPKF arrived in Sri Lanka during the latter part of 1987 under the Indo-Sri Lanka peace accord in an attempt to resolve the country's ethnic conflict.

"The spreading of Parthenium weed not only affects agricultural produce but also causes additional expenditure to the North East Provincial Council (NEPC) to control it," experts said.

From Vavuniya the weed spread to neighbouring districts. In Vavuniya alone 200 hectares of land have been infested with Parthenium weed. "Every district in the Northeast province the weed is now found," agricultural sources said.

The Provincial Department of Agriculture in Trincomalee had spent three hundred thousand rupees to control the spread of this weed during 2001 unsuccessfully. This year the Provincial Department of Agriculture has allocated one million rupees for the eradication of this weed. This species once spread in favourable habitat spread fast and behave an invasive even destroying the native species from their natural ranges, agricultural experts said.

Medical sources said that in health point of view this weed causes skin disorders to people.

NEPC officials have launched a massive public awareness campaign to educate the masses the danger of the weed thus organising manual weeding and burning until it is totally eliminated. No pest or disease could destroy this weed, provincial agricultural department sources said.

The botanical name of this weed is Parthenium hysterphorus. The ommon name is Parthenium weed. It is said to be one of the worst weeds for agriculture, the environment and human health. It is native to Mexico and the United States of America and has spread prolifically to other parts of the world including India and now in the Northeast province in Sri Lanka, agricultural sources said.

 

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