Ludhiana: More than 30% of the cotton cultivated in Mansa and Bathinda districts is under pink bollworm attack, with many farmers plowing their standing crop after failing to save it.
In the meantime, the Punjab government has ordered girdwari in the entire cotton belt to assess the spread of disease. A number of farmers have already ploughed their fields, but others are still waiting for the girdwari teams to assess the spread of the disease.
Manjit Singh, chief agriculture officer, Bathinda and Mansa, confirmed that the attack is on BT cotton varieties and not Desi cotton. He said, ‘Cause of this attack is the cotton stalk of last season which farmers keep as a source of fuel in their houses, tubewell rooms or near fields etc. These stalks are picked from fields after cotton plucking. Even now, last year’s stock of cotton stalks hasn’t been consumed fully while new crop has started coming in the market. These stalks at times act as breeding ground for pink bollworm and hence they attack the crop in the fields. This has happened in many areas this time. Once the insect starts attacking the crop, initial control by pesticides is a must as later on it becomes uncontrollable. Hence, many farmers didn’t use pesticides in August when this pest started appearing in crop first of all.’
According to the information, area under cotton last year was 2.5 lakh hectares which has increased to 3 lakh hectares this year. The area under cotton in Bathinda is 96,000 hectares, while in Mansa it is 65,000 hectares. Manjit Singh said, ‘Nearly 30 percent of the crop is under pest attack. We need to assess the percentage of damage through girdwari.’
Deputy Commissioner Ramvir said that crops in Sangrur are not under pink bollworm attacks; however, information from Muktsar revealed reports of pest infestations have come from one village of Gidderbaha, but rest of the district has been deemed safe so far. According to sources, the Fazilka district is also in the safe zone. The Agriculture Department reported that pink bollworm attacks are very severe in many Haryana villages, and that in Punjab they are dealing with the problem after a long absence. Meanwhile, Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal is set to meet farmers in few Talwandi Sabo villages to discuss the issue. She had also requested Rs 20,000 per acre in compensation for farmers. She also claimed that pesticides with spurious quality had no effect on crops. She called for an inquiry into this case and punishment of the culprits.
Punjab’s Samyukta Kisan Morcha has asked the government to compensate farmers or they will protest from September 30.