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'Bollworms no more a threat to cotton' - Dr Ben Ssekamatte
05
Sep '08
Cotton farmers in Uganda have reasons to rejoice. Dr Ben Ssekamatte, a well known Ugandan scientist and cotton research and development consultant, has found an extraordinary way to protect crops from bollworm, a pest that destroys cotton balls.

He has developed a unique anti-bollworm pest trap which was initially tested on organic cotton in Zambia and after getting encouraging results; it is now expected to bring relief to cotton production in Uganda. This new development came at a time when cotton yields were faced with drastic decline from 476,000 bales in 1969 to a meager 60,000 last year.

In an exclusive interview with Fibre2fashion, Mr Ben Ssekamatte explained the workings of this trap saying that, “the trap is really very simple and uses common principles of insect science. It requires yellow plastic containers with a capacity of 3 litre which are usually disposed by all households after using cooking oil.

Since Lepidopterans insect spp are known to get attracted to color yellow, bollworm would most likely get trapped in the container. To strengthen bollworm attraction to this trap, we filled the container with 20 percent molasses solution which smells like pollen and other insect odors and attracts female moths in particular who seek protein-rich food to develop eggs.

The combination of color yellow and the impact of molasses is highly effective in attracting the moths which drown in the solution. Significant daily catches are recorded and the theoretical impact on bollworm control and reductions in yield loss are amazing.”

It was noted that earlier, farmers usually planted sunflower and cotton in the same garden in an attempt to fight pest. However, the measure proved to be not only ineffective but highly damaging. This is because instead of bollworms laying eggs on the cotton buds, they deposit them on the sunflower and unfortunately due to which the sunflower dries up quickly, leaving the cotton unprotected for another six months.

Mr Ben reiterated that the main objective in introducing this new methodology was to increase cotton yields by practicing proper organic agricultural systems. He further asserted that “both plastic containers and the molasses are extremely cheap materials and can therefore be readily available in the country. It particularly suits small scale cotton farmers in Uganda and can have a wider application across the region.”

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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