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Whitefly attacks cotton crop in Punjab
12
Jul '16
The cotton belt in Punjab's stands threatened by whitefly attack with the dreaded pest detected in as many as 15 villages in Abohar region and farmers have been advised to spray recommended chemicals to save the crop.

The attack of whitefly on cotton crop, which is now in the flowering stage, is visible in about 15 villages of Khuian Sarwar block of Abohar in Fazilka district, an official of Punjab Agriculture department said a day after the state's Additional Chief Secretary N S Kalsi inspected the affected areas on Sunday.

Noting that the economic threshold limit in the current whitefly attack had exceeded six per leaf, the official said that growers had been asked to spray recommended chemicals to kill the pest.

The stage of using 'neem-based bio-pesticides' is over and it was necessary to use chemical based insecticides, he added.

Meanwhile, farmers are being given demonstrations and advised on the type of insecticides to be used in cotton fields to save the crop from being destroyed for the second successive year.

Last year whitefly attack had caused widespread damage to Bt cotton varieties in Punjab and Haryana. In Punjab alone, 1.36 lakh hectares out of total 4.50 lakh hectares of cotton acreage was ravaged by whitefly last season and output had dropped by 40 % .

Significantly, cotton acreage in Punjab witnessed the sharpest decline this season: area under this Kharif crop has shrunk to 2.56 lakh hectares in the current season as against 4.50 lakh hectares last year.

This season the pest was spotted, mainly on cotton crop which was planted near orchards in Abohar, which is also known for Kinnow fruit. It showed that the fruit crop provided conditions conducive for the pest to grow and attack the cotton crop, the official said.

While the department claims to have conducted massive training programmes to encourage farmers to grow the crop with useful tips on cultivation and pest control and also hired more than 500 young farm experts for reaching out to farmers, the opposition Congress lashed out at the SAD-BJP government for not doing enough in this direction.

“The whitefly attack, the second year in a row, has exposed the tall claims of Parkash Singh Badal led government on taking measures to protect cotton crop from whitefly which had caused severe damage to crop last year,” Punjab Congress spokesperson and MLA from Abohar Sunil Jakhar said. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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