As the ongoing dry spell is precipitating the menace of the whitefly on the cotton crop with every passing day in Haryana, at least four districts in the state are said to be badly hit.
Even though a central team had visited the whitefly affected districts earlier last month, the damage had only been aggravated ever since, state agriculture department officials told HT.
Dry spell is found to be very conducive for egg-laying activity of whitefly.
The state government had recently announced a girdawari (survey) to assess the damage to the cotton crop.
While 95% of the total 5.8 lakh hectares in 12 districts in the state is under Bt cotton cultivation, the four most-hit districts are Sirsa, which has around 1.9 lakh hectares under cotton cultivation, Hisar with 1.25 lakh hectares, Fatehabad with 77,000 hectares and Bhiwani 62,000 hectares.
Agriculture department additional director Suresh Gehlawat informed HT that though it was for the third year in a row that the cotton crop had been hit by the whitefly, the damage was maximum this year.
Officials in Sirsa said that at least 25% of the total 1.9 lakh hectare cotton cultivation had been severely hit by the whitefly. They said even worse was the case of late variety cotton sown in end-May or June. “Though the final picture of the damage - which is set to be more - would be clear later, the scant or no rain for the past several weeks is aggravating the menace of whitefly which develops faster in dry spell,” he said and added that the department was extensively publicising use of Neem-based oil to check the damage.
Hisar district officials said that out of total 1.25 lakh hectare crop cultivation, the whitefly had caused damage to an extent of more than 75% was in about 5,000 hectares in the district, more than 50% in about 10,000 hectare and over 25% damage in 25,000 hectare area while in remaining area, the damage was less than 25%. Besides holding meetings in each village, the officials are also spreading awareness about remedial methods such as use of Neem- based oil or spray of chemicals like triazophos at different stages through media and even at schools.
In Fatehabad, of the total 79,000 hectare cotton cultivation, the crop in more than 60,000 hectare had been damaged to the extent of 25% while it was around 50% in 16,000 hectare and more than 75 % in about 2,200 hectare area, deputy director Balwant Singh said and added that farmers were being asked to use Neem-based oil to check the damage.
In Bhiwani, deputy director Atma Ram Godara said the damage in about 20,000 hectares out of the total 62,000 hectares of cotton cultivation to an extent of about 50%. He too said that Neem-based oil was the time-tested remedy for the menace.