23) Andhra Pradesh and ICRISAT Join Hands to Fight Groundnut Virus (11 May 2001)

ICRISAT Director General Dr. William D. Dar submitted today an Action Plan to the Honorable Chief Minister Shri Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh for containing the spread of the peanut stem necrosis disease (PSND) that ravaged about 2.5 lakh hectares under groundnut in the Ananthapur and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh, during Kharif season last year.

The Action Plan has been formulated on the basis of the breakthrough made by scientists from ICRISAT, the National Bureau for Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), Hyderabad and Acharya N. G. Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU) in finding the cause of the epidemic.

The scientists found that the virus causing PSND is a strain of tobacco streak virus (TSV), which is well-known to attack many other crop plants and weeds, but has never before been seen on groundnut. TSV causes massive damage on sunflower and many farmers in India are abandoning sunflower as a result.

Based on these studies, the Action Plan proposes the following measures for containing the spread of PSND in Andhra Pradesh:

  1. The causal virus is seed-transmitted in many other host plants. Seed transmission in groundnut is yet to be ascertained. As a precautionary measure however, farmers should avoid seed from areas affected by the disease during Kharif, 2000.

  2. Many weeds are infected with the virus and can be a source of inoculum. Therefore, farmers should remove weeds, especially those that flower during the early stages of groundnut crop growth.

  3. Intercropping is likely to be beneficial. It should be done only with quick growing cereal crops, which include pearl millet (sajja) and sorghum (jonna). At least one row of cereal should be planted for every three rows of groundnut. Five or six rows of the same cereal crop planted along field borders can act as a barrier against vector insects.
  4. Sunflower and marigold are highly susceptible to this virus. Therefore, farmers should not grow these crops near the groundnut crop.

  5. From our surveys it is apparent that the virus is widely distributed in Ananthapur and Kurnool districts. Therefore, it is essential to monitor groundnut crops for the presence of the virus. Diagnostic tools have been developed at ICRISAT for precise virus identification.

  6. We now know the mechanism of virus transmission, and at least one of the thrips species involved has been identified. Spraying with contact or systemic insecticides (including monocrotophos) is extremely unlikely to help in containing the spread of the disease.

Dr Dar presented this Action Plan to the Chief Minister during the Seminar organized by the Government of Andhra Pradesh on 'World Trade Agreements and their implications on agriculture and allied sectors and small and medium enterprises', in which both participated.


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