Over 30% area under cotton in Mansa and Bhatinda districts is under pink bollworm attack with many farmers ploughing their standing crop after failing to save it.
Punjab government, meanwhile, has ordered girdwari in the entire cotton belt to assess the spread of disease. While many farmers have already ploughed their fields, others are waiting for the girdwari teams to assess their damage for due compensation.
Attack is on BT varieties of cotton and not on Desi cotton, confirmed Manjit Singh, chief agriculture officer, Bhatinda and Mansa.
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.”
Information revealed that area under cotton last year was 2.5 lakh hectares which has increased to 3 lakh hectares this year. In Bhatinda, area under cotton is 96,000 hectares while 65,000 hectares in Mansa. Manjit Singh said, “Nearly 30% of the crop is under pest attack. We need to assess the percentage of damage through girdwari.”
In Sangrur, Deputy Commissioner Ramvir said crops here were not under pink bollworm attack while information from Muktsar revealed that reports of pest infestation have come from one village of Gidderbaha, while rest of the district is reported safe as of now. Fazilka district is also in the safe zone, as per sources. Information from Agriculture department revealed that pink bollworm attack is very severe in many Haryana villages while in Punjab they are dealing with it after a long gap. Meanwhile Bhatinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal will be visiting few villages of Talwandi Sabo to meet the farmers over the issue. She had also demanded Rs 20,000 per acre compensation for farmers. She also alleged that spurious quality of pesticides were the reasons for no effect of pesticides on crop. She demanded an inquiry in this case and punishment to culprits as well.
With New Arrivals, Cotton Rules Above MSP
Meanwhile, the new cotton crop has begun arriving in northern markets, Karnataka and Telangala with prices of kapas (raw cotton) ruling at least 10% higher than the minimum support price (MSP) levels fixed by the Centre for the new season starting October. The trade estimates the daily market arrivals at over 10,000 bales, bulk of it mainly in the North. Modal prices (rates at which most trade in the natural fibre takes place) of raw cotton are hovering between Rs 6,400 and Rs 7,000 per quintal across various markets, depending on the quality and moisture content. Prices are higher than the MSP of Rs 5,726 per quintal.