Kamrup Farmers Battle Parthenium-Induced Health Issues and Crop Damage

Farmers Demand Advanced Scientific Intervention to Combat Invasive Weed

Parthenium at South Kamrup agricultural land
Parthenium at South Kamrup agricultural land

Guwahati, July 5: Many farmers in the southern part of Kamrup district in Assam are grappling with a dual crisis as the invasive Parthenium weed has affected their health and livelihoods. Recent cases from Palasbari LAC highlight the severity of the situation, with numerous farmers suffering from serious health issues. The aggressive weed has also rendered hundreds of bighas of farmland unusable, which has resulted in economic loss to farmers as agricultural productivity is highly affected.

Parthenium hysterophorus, commonly known as congress grass, carrot weed, or ragweed parthenium, is a highly invasive plant species that poses significant threats to biodiversity, agriculture, and human health. The pollen and volatile organic compounds released by the plant can cause severe health issues in humans, including dermatitis, asthma, and bronchitis.

Bartari, a village under Bejartari gaon panchayat located on the south bank of the Brahmaputra, is highly affected by the poisonous weed Parthenium, commonly known as congress grass or carrot weed. Locals told this reporter that they had never seen this grass in the area. They suspect that the floodwaters of the Brahmaputra might have brought the plant into the region.

According to reports, at least eleven farmers in the Bartari area are undergoing treatment due to severe side effects caused by the poisonous plant. The affected individuals have been identified as Hitesh Kalita, 60, Ramen Das, 45, Jagat Kalita, 38, British Nath, 50, Kameshwar Kalita, 56, Pradeep Nath, 45, Deben Das, 61, Ganesh Kalita, 58, Ajen Kalita, 63, Muhin Kalita, 60, and Mahesh Kalita, 60. All of them are under medical supervision.

The infestation of Parthenium, which has spread across approximately 2,000 bighas of agricultural land, has left hundreds of farmers in the area suffering. This weed has significantly impacted the local farmers, depriving them of numerous crops and causing widespread illness among the population.

A local farmer, Jayanta Mahanta, said, “This is a serious issue. We have been affected by the Parthenium menace for the last year. But the problem has become more critical as new areas are captured by this grass, leading to loss of farmlands and our health”.

Pointing to the lack of arrangements by the concerned officials, he pointed out that only destroying the plants won’t work as the sees have a 100% pollination rate. Currently, all the plants have yielded seeds.” He demanded that some advanced scientific steps be taken to provide some respite to the farmers and save the farmlands.

The Bartari village is about three kilometres north of NH17 in Kukurmara in Kamrup district. The area is suitable for various seasonal crops, including paddy, banana, soybean, groundnut, apple, melon, and dragon fruit. The fruits are exported to many parts of the state. However, the spread of Parthenium has jeopardized these crops, leaving farmers distressed and struggling to maintain their livelihoods.

Meanwhile, a team from the agriculture department, including Sub-divisional Agriculture Officer Hitesh Deka, Agricultural Development Officer Jyoti Thakuria, Sanidul Islam, and Ajmal Haque, recently visited the affected area.

They discussed the issue with local farmers and assured them that all measures would be taken to eradicate it. Pesticides were distributed among the farmers on trial to combat the infestation. However, long-term solutions to tackle this menace are sought by farmers

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