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Daily News Analysis

Foot Rot Disease

10th May, 2024 Agriculture

Foot Rot Disease

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  • The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, has developed a biocontrol agent named Trichoderma asperellum (2% WP) to combat the deadly 'foot rot' or 'bakanae' disease that affects Basmati rice crops.

Foot Rot

Nature of Foot Rot:

  • Foot rot, also known as bakanae, is a fungal disease primarily affecting Basmati rice crops during the seedling stage. The causative agent is Fusarium verticillioides, which is a soil-seed borne pathogen.

Symptoms and Spread:

  • Infected seedlings exhibit distinct symptoms, starting with a pale yellowing of leaves, followed by elongation, drying up, and eventual death.
  • The infection spreads through root invasion, leading to colonization of the stem base, which severely compromises the plant's health and productivity.

Current Management Practices:

  • Farmers currently employ several strategies to manage foot rot, including early seedling treatment with Trichoderma harzianum, a commonly used biocontrol agent.
  • Additionally, seeds are treated with fungicides like Sprint 75 WS (carbendazim + mancozeb) to prevent fungal infections.
  • There's a significant emphasis on using disease-free seeds and promptly destroying any infected seedlings to prevent further spread.
  • Timely nursery management is crucial, with experts recommending seed sowing in the first fortnight of June and transplantation in July to avoid the disease's peak during high-temperature months like May.

PAU's Solution: Trichoderma asperellum

Introduction of Biocontrol Agent:

  • PAU's development of Trichoderma asperellum represents a significant advancement in combating foot rot. This biocontrol agent has been registered with the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC), ensuring its efficacy and safety.
  • Trichoderma asperellum is ecofriendly, underscoring its role in providing a non-chemical alternative to traditional pesticides while minimizing environmental harm.

Features and Benefits:

  • Trichoderma asperellum, offers several advantages over conventional treatments.
  • Its efficacy in combating foot rot without leaving harmful residues on the crop ensures both crop health and consumer safety.
  • The biocontrol agent shows promising results in experimental phases, indicating its potential to significantly reduce foot rot incidence and mitigate yield losses.

Implementation and Distribution:

  • PAU advocates for the comprehensive adoption of Trichoderma asperellum in Basmati rice cultivation, advising farmers to treat both seeds and seedlings with this biocontrol agent.
  • To facilitate widespread adoption, PAU has signed an MOU with a private company for large-scale manufacturing and distribution of Trichoderma asperellum.
  • The aim is to make this innovative solution readily available to farmers in Punjab and beyond, starting from the upcoming growing season.

Implications and Future Prospects

Economic Impact:

  • Foot rot poses a significant threat to Basmati rice yields, thereby jeopardizing Punjab's export prospects.
  • The introduction of Trichoderma asperellum offers a ray of hope, potentially safeguarding the quality and quantity of Basmati rice exports from the region.

Environmental Considerations:

  • By reducing reliance on chemical treatments like carbendazim, which is already banned in Punjab due to its harmful residues, Trichoderma asperellum promotes soil health and environmental sustainability.
  • Its eco-friendly nature aligns with modern agricultural practices focused on minimizing environmental impact while ensuring food security.

Market Influence:

  • PAU's innovation holds strategic importance for Punjab and Haryana, the two major contributors to India's basmati exports.
  • The widespread adoption of Trichoderma asperellum could enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of basmati rice cultivation, thereby bolstering the agricultural economy of the region.


Q: Which of the following statements best describes the foot rot disease?

A) It is a bacterial infection affecting the roots of cereal crops.

B) It primarily affects the leaves of fruit-bearing trees, leading to premature defoliation.

C) It is a fungal disease that commonly affects Basmati rice crops during the seedling stage.

D) It is caused by a viral pathogen that spreads through airborne transmission.


C) It is a fungal disease that commonly affects Basmati rice crops during the seedling stage.