Worried about the cotton crop damage by whitefly in Punjab, the Centre on Friday said it would test 1,000 samples of pesticides to check if spurious ones were sold to growers and take action based on lab reports.
The Punjab government has already sent these samples to the Union agriculture ministry.
On farmers’ suicides, the state government has informed the Centre that district collectors have been asked to investigate each case and submit reports by October 16.
Punjab’s farmers have been seeking higher compensation for crops damaged in the whitefly attack.
“We had offered to provide lab facilities to test the quality of pesticides. Accordingly, the Punjab government has sent 1,000 samples. Based on the reports, action will be taken,” a senior agriculture ministry official told PTI.
After noticing a sudden surge in the whitefly pest in cotton crops in Punjab, the official said the ministry had issued an advisory, mentioning names of 30 pesticides and five pesticide combinations that could be used to control the pest attack.
Subsequently, the ministry had sent a team of experts from the directorate of plant protection to Punjab and Haryana, which found fields infested with the pest.
“At the zonal meeting for preparing a strategy for the rabi season, this issue was discussed in detail. The remedial measures were suggested to the state. Later, the state government had also launched a campaign to check if spurious pesticides were sold in the market,” the official added.
The Malwa region has been the worst affected by the whitefly attack, the official added.
Asked about reports of farmer suicides due to the crop damage, the official said, “We enquired about the suicides with the Punjab government. They told us that the district collectors will submit the report by October 16 after investigating whether suicides were related to agrarian reasons.”