Kasargod: After suffering from droughts, floods and the menace of wild birds, Kasargod farmers are now worried about the latest gastropod epidemic and there appears to be no solution for the farmers residing in the Paivalike and Meenja Gram Panchayat.
The ecosystems of Manjaltodi, Kallekar and Bedradi, have been infected by African snails which have been troubling the farmers living in these regions.
In the midst of falling crop prices, the infection of rice paddy and coconut trees has resulted in farmers not being able to repay their bank loans. These African gastropods are known to devour the insides of coconuts and destroy rice, bananas and mangoes as well.
Occupying small gardens and farms, these gastropods eat the leaves of plants and destroy them. Paddy, nutmeg and coconuts are its staple food. By eating the roots, they destroy the entire tree. Their appetite increases at night and they devour vegetables such as basil, yam and colocasia leaves. Interestingly, they also feed on the paint coating the walls of houses.
The region was affected by adverse drought conditions in the months of April and May and now their crops are being destroyed by these gastropods that came to the region from the nearby freshwater stream that flows through the farms.
In addition to affecting the crops, the snails are also said to be dangerous to the health of human beings. The African snails carry a parasite known as 'nematode' which results in itching and can cause skin diseases among humans.
As the number of snails increases every day, environmentalists are worried about how it might affect the health of the women and children in the area. Getting rid of the snails with chemical sprays is not an option as they are very expensive.
Due to the possible health risks, the locals are urging the authorities to look into the matter. If the issue is not resolved immediately, the lives of hundreds of farmers and their families may be at risk.
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