Department of Agriculture, Dimapur district organized an eradication campaign of parthenium, a poisonous weed, along NH-39 from Purana Bazar till Piphema on Saturday with District Agriculture Officer (DAO) N Wetsah, Dimapur and his colleagues supervising the programme.
Meanwhile Assistant Plant Pathologist, Dimapur, Bendanglila, informed that the species Parthenium hysterophorus, also known as congress weeds or congress grass, has become a common weed in Taiwan, Australia and parts of Africa. She informed that in some areas, outbreaks have been of almost epidemic proportions, impacting crop production, livestock and human health. It was imported into India along with the PL 480 Mexican wheat seeds in the 1950s, she said. The weed has since grown into uncontrollable proportions invading million of hectares of uncultivated wastelands, roadsides, railway tracks, etc.
It may be mentioned that scientists had describe it as a “poisonous, allergic and aggressive weed posing a serious threat to human beings and livestock.” The presence of parthenium in cropped lands resulted in yield reduction up to 40 per cent. It is also responsible for bitter milk disease in livestock fed on grass mixed with parthenium. Contact with this plant causes dermatitis and respiratory malfunction in humans, dermatitis in cattle and domestic animals, due to the presence of toxin Parthenin. After much research, Mexican beetles (zygogramma bicolorata) were considered a “safe” bio-control agent with both the adults and larvae capable of feeding on the parthenium leaves thus checking the plant growth and flower production.