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Punjab, Haryana lagging behind in cotton acreage
19
May '16
Cotton acreage in Punjab and Haryana remained far less than the targeted area despite a campaign to push farmers for timely sowing of the crop to prevent pest attacks.

Punjab has so far seen cotton sowing at 2.08 lakh hectares, less than half of the target of 5 lakh hectares. Haryana is a little better off with 65 per cent sowing so far against the target of 6.20 lakh hectares, according to a PTI report.

The agriculture departments of both states where whitefly pest had destroyed much of the crop last year, had asked cotton growers this season to complete sowing by May 15 which is considered ideal period as plantation. After that date, the crop becomes susceptible to pest attack.

Officials attributed to non-achievement of sowing target to farmers preferring other crops like paddy, pulses over cotton and non-availability of canal water.

"Growers are still scared of widespread attack of whitefly which caused massive damage to crop in Punjab and Haryana. They are shying away from sowing crop and looking at alternate crops like paddy, pulses, guar," former President of North India Cotton Association, Mahesh Sharda said.

Farm experts feel that the acreage under crop in Punjab will restrict to about 3.30 lakh hectares as against target of 5 lakh hectares. Last year, cotton acreage in Punjab was spread across 4.50 lakh hectares.
In Haryana, the sowing may reach 5.50 lakh hectares against target of 6.20 lakh hectares.

Officials claimed that cotton sowing in both states would now complete within May.

In several areas of Punjab, about 80,000 hectares of area could not brought under cotton because of non-availability of irrigation water in distributaries of Sirhind canal.

Water supply to Muktsar, Fazilka and Bathinda was affected because of repair of Lambi, Arniwala and Bhagsar minors, official said.

Experts of agriculture departments of Punjab and Haryana undertook training programmes for growers at village levels to timely sow crop with recommended varieties, along with other steps prevent reoccurrence of massive crop damage.

Last season, whitefly pest attack had caused widespread damage to Bt cotton varieties in Punjab and Haryana and had witnessed dip of about 40 per cent in output.

In Punjab, 1.36 lakh hectares out of total 4.50 lakh hectares of cotton acreage was damaged by whitefly attack while in Haryana, out of 5.83 lakh hectares, 3.06 lakh hectares was in the grip of pest attack.

The governments in both the states encouraged farmers this year to grow indigenous cotton as domestic variety has resistance to whitefly attack. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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