|An outbreak of waxworms this season damaged crops and resulted in huge losses for farmers in the northern province of Bac Kan. — Photo baobackan.org.vn
BAC KAN (VNS)— An outbreak of waxworms this season damaged crops and resulted in huge losses for farmers in the northern province of Bac Kan.
Waxworms, the larvae of wax moths, have invaded 1,800ha over a 40,000 ha planting area of Magnolia conifera (Mo), one of two key plants of the province, according to the local Agriculture and Rural Development Department, Dang Van Son.
Mo are planted in a vast area due to their easy growth, durability and salability, but they now stand bare, stripped of leaves.
All seven districts and one town in the province reported a waxworm attack.
Nong Van Hung, a farmer in Phong Huan commune, said his family planted 4ha of Mo trees. Normally, he can harvest the plants after two years and make a turnover of VND340 million (US$15,178) to VND400 million ($17,857).
Like many others, Hung is facing the risk of a waxworm breakout.
Last year, over 18.4 tonnes of pupas, worms and worm eggs had been collected.
Dang Thi Anh Tho, general director of Ba Be District's Agriculture and Rural Development Sub-Department, said waxworms grow at a rapid pace. In the adult stage, a worm can produce 100 eggs, and the rate of hatchability is high.
She added that such worms can spread across a vast area. Growers can collect about 1kg of worms in a single tree.
After attacking the top and leaves of the tree, the worms then scrub the tree skin. As a result, the trees will die or face stunted growth.
Although the province and local people have adapted various measures to prevent waxworms from destroying the trees, their efforts have not been fruitful.
Bac Kan has spent VND1.2 billion ($53,570) on insect-killer machines, sprays and research in an attempt to eliminate this type of worm.
In addition, the province collected worms hand-picked by local people for the price of VND50,000 ($2.23) per kg initially, which was then reduced to VND15,000 ($0.67).
Ma Van Tu, a grower in Bang Lu town, said he and many other farmers used various types of insect repellents and sticky traps, but were not successful.
As the volume of worms continued to grow and showed no sign of stopping, some districts depleted their budgets.
Son admitted that no measure has been successful to date.
Ha Van Hinh, vice chairman of the People's Committee of Phong Huan commune, said many households have stopped investing in and expanding the planted area.
The province advised farmers to switch to other plant species to avoid the worms. However, farmers said that if scientists can find measures to stop the worms, they are willing to continue planting this tree. — VNS