Rust Ravages Crops: Farmers Struggle Against Devastating Disease in Madhya Pradesh

Reports indicate significant damage to gram and lentil crops in Damoh and Narsinghpur, while in Jabalpur, approximately 15 thousand hectares of pea crops have withered away. Moreover, in Narsinghpur and Gadarwara, the lentil fields have suffered complete annihilation due to the onslaught of the rust virus.
Rust Ravages Crops: Farmers Struggle Against Devastating Disease in Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal- "We have four acres of land, this time we had sown lentils, peas, and gram in the fields. Since last week, lentils and peas started withering, we had given an adequate amount of water, but we could not understand why this was happening. Later, it was found that there was some disease in the crops. Within two days, the entire crop dried up and the beans started turning black. This time it is difficult to recover even the cost of farming."

This is the concern of the farmers of Eastern Madhya Pradesh, including Pappu Gond, a tribal farmer of Shayari village in Damoh district. An incurable disease called Rust is spreading rapidly in the crops of the districts of Jabalpur and Sagar divisions of Madhya Pradesh. Due to this disease, about 60 thousand hectares of crops are on the verge of destruction.

While talking to The Mooknayak, Pappu Gond said that 80 percent of his crop has been damaged due to this disease. There are a total of five people in Pappu's family, and farming is the only source of livelihood for them.

Pappu does organic farming, using organic fertilizers in his crops instead of chemical fertilizers and medicines. This time Pappu had sown peas, gram, and lentils in his four acres of land at a cost of about Rs 20 thousand. To ensure a good harvest, cow dung manure was purchased and applied in the fields. But his hard work went in vain due to crop disease.

Here, while talking to The Mooknayak representative, Prem Singh Maravi, a tribal farmer of Tendukheda area of ​​Damoh, said that this time he had sown gram, peas, lentils, mustard, and coriander; the crop was very good. The weather was also cooperating. But suddenly white fungus appeared in peas and lentils. Within two days, the crop started drying up and the peas were turning black. When we told this to agricultural experts, they said that the crop was affected by disease. Prem Singh said - "Only peas and lentils were sown on half of the two acres of land, but that crop got ruined. This time there was hope of profit because the last crop did not yield much profit. Now, this time, it is difficult to meet the cost of the crop."

Farmers are worried due to the virus spreading in crops in the districts of Eastern Madhya Pradesh. Especially, this virus is attacking gram, lentils, and peas. Peas arrive in large quantities in Jabalpur. Peas from here go not only to Madhya Pradesh but also to Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal.

Over the past week, an onslaught of disease, characterized by both rust and blight, has besieged crops, particularly targeting pea cultivation. Extending across thousands of hectares, this calamitous outbreak has pushed the pea crop to the brink of devastation. The onset of the disease manifests with the emergence of ominous white spots on the peas, signaling imminent peril. Within a mere span of two to three days, the once-promising crop succumbs to withering and spoilage, leaving farmers grappling with profound loss.

Referred to as "rust" in Hindi, this affliction has ravaged approximately 60 thousand hectares of crops, with a staggering 15 thousand hectares bearing the brunt of the pea crop's destruction.

Despite concerted efforts, agricultural scientists lament the absence of an effective treatment regimen for this relentless malady, leaving farmers with little recourse but to bear the burden of its catastrophic consequences.

The rapid spread of the rust virus has become a grave concern, especially with the absence of any effective treatment. Following its devastating impact in Jabalpur, neighboring districts such as Damoh, Narsinghpur, Sagar, Panna, and Tikamgarh have also fallen victim to this relentless scourge. Reports indicate significant damage to gram and lentil crops in Damoh and Narsinghpur, while in Jabalpur, approximately 15 thousand hectares of pea crops have withered away. Moreover, in Narsinghpur and Gadarwara, the lentil fields have suffered complete annihilation due to the onslaught of the rust virus.

Mulayam Patel, a farmer from Gadarwara, recounts the distressing ordeal, having cultivated peas across five acres of land this season. Recognizing the lucrative potential of peas, Mulayam had pinned hopes for substantial profits. However, his aspirations were shattered as the disease wreaked havoc, leaving his entire crop in ruins. "This time, the disease has decimated the entire harvest," laments Mulayam, echoing the sentiments of countless farmers grappling with the ruthless consequences of the rust virus.

Symptoms of Rust Virus

While talking to The Mooknayak, agricultural scientist Manoj Kumar Ahirwar said that rust and blight disease have spread in crops, due to which, according to an estimate, about 60 thousand hectares of crops have been affected in Sagar and Jabalpur divisions.

As explained by Kumar, the onset of the disease is marked by the emergence of white spots on the lower leaves of the pea plant. These spots progressively thicken over time. Eventually, they burst, releasing a saffron-colored powder. The spread of this disease is facilitated by fluctuating weather conditions. Additionally, blight disease occurs as a result of excessive moisture in the fields. Once the infected plants come into contact with fog and air, the spread of the disease accelerates rapidly.

The rust virus spreads rapidly in temperatures between 17 to 27 degrees. As soon as rust appears in the crops, the crops start drying up. If this virus enters the crop, then it is certain that the crop will be ruined. Due to the virus, the greenery of the crop disappears.

Heavy losses to farmers

According to agricultural scientist Manoj Kumar Ahirwar, this disease is caused by a fungus that affects crops due to changes in the weather. To mitigate its impact and save the crop, spraying fungicides containing sulfur in the fields can be beneficial. However, the major challenge faced by farmers is that by the time they identify the problem accurately, the disease has often already caused significant damage to the crop.

In the regions of Jabalpur and Gadarwada, peas and lentils have been severely impacted by rust and blight diseases. These areas witness a predominant cultivation of pea crops by most farmers. Presently, peas are cultivated across approximately 15 thousand hectares of land. Normally, one acre yields about 70 to 80 sacks, each containing 30 to 35 quintals of peas. However, due to the detrimental effects of rust disease, the yield has been slashed by half. Farmers report that since the onset of the rust disease, the yield per acre has plummeted by 30%. Consequently, farmers have incurred substantial losses running into lakhs of rupees.

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