Rajasthan's First Encounter: African Giant Snail Strikes Udaipur's Farmlands

As the African Giant Snail invasion continues to wreak havoc on Udaipur's fields, another formidable threat has emerged - an outbreak of fall armyworms.
Experts in the Rapid Roving Survey Team inspecting maize crops in Udaipur on Friday
Experts in the Rapid Roving Survey Team inspecting maize crops in Udaipur on FridayMPUAT

Udaipur— In an alarming turn of events, the tranquil village fields of Udaipur, are facing an onslaught of the African Giant Snail (Achatina Fulica) on an unprecedented scale. This menacing invasion has left farmers reeling as they grapple with a threat never before witnessed in the region. Experts believe that this marks the first time the African Giant Snail has made a substantial entry in such large numbers, triggering widespread devastation and posing a grave danger to the region's agricultural landscape.

The snails were first sighted on July 24 when farmers in the Hathidhara and Ratitalai areas reported their presence. Initially, the sighting of a few African Giant Snails seemed innocuous, with only 24 observed in small numbers. However, the situation quickly spiraled out of control, with their population now reaching staggering proportions, leaving the once-green fields teeming with thousands of these invasive creatures. Astonishingly, these snails have not only multiplied exponentially but have also grown in size and weight, with individuals tipping the scales between 100 to 350 grams.

The severity of the infestation prompted the farmers to seek help from agriculture supervisors and higher officials. Assistant Agriculture Officer Suresh Vaishnav and Agriculture Supervisor Pushkar Prajapat were among the first to investigate the alarming situation. However, they were at a loss, having never encountered such a problem before in Rajasthan. Pictures and videos of the infestation were promptly sent to higher authorities for further assessment.

Loyara Sarpanch Priyanka told the agriculture staff that the snails remain on trees when it is sunny during the day and start feeding on crops around 4 in the evening, causing extensive damage overnight.

In response to the crisis, the Agriculture Department has mobilized agricultural scientists to tackle the issue. Madho Singh Champawat, Joint Director of the Agriculture Department, revealed that similar snail sightings have been reported in other states like Kerala and Maharashtra, but this marks the first known instance in Rajasthan. The experts are exploring the possibility of controlling the snail invasion through spraying salt solution.

Experts believe that the heavy rains in July this year along with the good run of the monsoon in the region over the past two years, have been conducive for the growth and survival of the African Giant Snail. These snails, by and large, are nocturnal in nature and therefore escape the attention of the farmers till they wreak havoc.

The snails were first sighted in Udaipur city during the late 90's .
The snails were first sighted in Udaipur city during the late 90's .Internet

First Sighted in Udaipur in 1996

Wildlife expert Dr. Satish Kumar Sharma shed light on the nature of the invasive species, confirming that the snails found in Udaipur belong to the African giant species. He recalled a previous report of the first sighting of this snail in the region back in the year 1996. He says, these snails are notorious for their devastating impact on greenery, and they must not be handled with bare hands due to the risk of infection from viruses and bacteria.

During a conchological survey of the water bodies and other damp localities around Udaipur city, Dr. Satish Kumar Sharma and Dr Raza Tehsin collected a few specimens of Giant African Land Snail in Panchwati near a nallah on 17th July 1996.

As many as seven species of freshwater snails have been described by Sharma (1997) from Udaipur region but little is known about the land snails of the area.

The report was published in Zoo’s Print Journal in 1999. The report said, during winter and summer, the snails remain hidden and with the onset of monsoon they come out of their hiding places and start breeding in grass lawns and other damp areas. They are voracious feeders and impact heavily on the local vegetation. In one house they were seen feeding on fallen fruits of Coccinia cordifolia. This snail is a prolific breeder and multiplies quickly. It was also observed to be eaten by Coucal.

The local farmers are anxiously awaiting the arrival of agricultural scientists and experts who will conduct further research and develop effective strategies to combat the snail invasion before it causes irreparable damage to the agricultural landscape in Udaipur.

The situation remains critical as farmers struggle to protect their livelihoods from this unexpected and destructive menace. The authorities and experts are working tirelessly to address the crisis and find a viable solution to save the crops and greenery from the relentless onslaught of the African Giant Snail (Ghogha).

Maize plant infested by fall army worm in a village
Maize plant infested by fall army worm in a villageMPUAT

Combating Fall Armyworm Infestation: Rapid Roving Survey Team Visits Farms

As the African Giant Snail invasion continues to wreak havoc on Udaipur's fields, another formidable threat has emerged - an outbreak of fall armyworms. On Friday, the Rapid Roving Survey team from Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology, Udaipur, joined forces with officials from the Rajasthan Agriculture Department to assess the situation in Girwa, Kurabad, and Mavli tehsils, covering various Gram Panchayats like Kanpur Bichdi, Sakroda, and Dabok. The mission's primary objective was to evaluate the agricultural conditions and provide valuable insights to help the farmers combat the fall armyworm infestation.

The initial survey yielded mixed results, with most of the farmers' crops, including maize and soybean, appearing to be in good health. However, the joy was tempered by unfortunate occurrences, as a few maize fields were found to be severely impacted by the outbreak of fall armyworms, while certain soybean fields were plagued by jaundice.

Dr. Hemant Swami, the entomologist from the Rapid Roving Survey Team, stepped forward to provide valuable information about the fall armyworm outbreak. Meanwhile, Dr. R.N Bunkar, the plant pathologist, addressed the concerns related to jaundice in soybean fields. Additionally, crop scientist Dr. Jagdish Chowdhary offered his expertise to help the farmers optimize their crop yields, ensuring they could maximize their agricultural productivity despite the ongoing threats

During the visit, Mahesh Ameta, the Assistant Director of Agriculture Extension, along with Agriculture Officer (crop) Narayan Singh Saxena and Assistant agriculture officer Rameshwar Lal Balai actively engaged with the farmers. They provided crucial information about the current crop conditions and imparted detailed knowledge about the symptoms of diseases and pest outbreaks. The farmers received essential guidance on how to diagnose and effectively manage these issues, empowering them to safeguard their crops and make informed decisions about their agricultural activities.

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