Parthenium hysterophorus (Family: Asteraceae), locally called gajar ghas or Congress grass, is an alien weed which entered into India along with wheat imported from USA in the early 1950s. Since then it has spread alarmingly and invaded about 35 million hectares of land throughout the country including Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep. This weed is notorious to cause many diseases like skin allergy, hay fever, breathing problems in human beings and animals besides reducing agricultural productivity loss of biodiversity.
This dreaded weed is spreading at an alarming rate in India and all our efforts for its management are falling short. In view of the seriousness and magnitude of the threat posed by this weed, ICAR-Directorate of Weed Research (DWR), Jabalpur has been organizing mass awareness programmes since 2004 to educate the farmers and general public about the harmful effects of Parthenium and ways of its management. In 2017 also, DWR organized a country-wide “Parthenium Awareness Week” from 16-22 August, 2017 by involving all State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs), institutes of ICAR, AICRP centres of Weed Management and many State Agricultural Departments, NGOs, municipalities, railway departments, schools and colleges etc. To facilitate the organizers, posters and extension materials,especially developed for this occasion, were distributed to about 1000 stakeholders with the appeal to observe some activities to make public aware about the weed.
ICAR-DWR, Jabalpur, organized Parthenium Awareness programmes in different villages like Baroda, Boria, Sagda and Sehod of Jabalpur district. Awareness programmes were also conducted at Divisional Railway Office, Municipality office involving their health and horticulture departments besides Rani Durgavati University involving NSS and NCC students. A training-cum-awareness programme was conducted at the Directorate on 22 August 2017. Many farmers, city people, NGOs from adjoining districts participated in the programme.
At country level, from Northern region of the country, universities like SKUAST, Jammu; GBPUAT, Pantnagar; CSKHPKV, Palampur; NDUAT, Faizabad; CSAUAT, Kanpur; CCSHAU, Haryana; and PAU, Ludhiana did various awareness programmes in collaboration with Krishi Vigyan Kendras, colleges and schools.
In North-Eastern region of the country, programmes were organized by Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat; Central Agricultural University, Pasighat; Bidhan Chandra Krishi Vishwavidhyalya, Mohanpur; Orissa University of Agricultural and Technology, Bhubaneswar; Rajendra Agricultural University, Pusa; and Birsa Agricultural University, Ranchi in collaboration with KVKs, schools and colleges in the region. Awareness programmes were also held at Harminder Bay of Andaman & Nicobar.
In Southern India, all the agricultural universities and many KVKs organized many events in urban and rural areas to create awareness among people. The prominent universities were: ANGRAU, Hyderabad; TNAU, Coimbatore; KAU, Kerala; and University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, Dharwad and Raichur. From the western part of India, awareness programmes were organized by Agricultural universities like AAU, Anand; MPUAT, Udaipur; SKRAU, Bikaner; Dr.BSKKV, Dapoli; Dr.PDKV, Akola. In central India, agricultural universities like IGKVV, Raipur; RVSKVV, Gwalior observed the week in collaboration with schools and colleges and KVks. Many ICAR institutes, NGOs, Universities, school and colleges also created awareness among the people by organizing various events during the week.