After last year’s mayhem in the cotton fields of Punjab, an inter-state committee will now save the fibre crop from the whitefly pest.
The 10-member consultative and monitoring committee includes scientists and other experts from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, while Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) vice-chancellor Baldev Singh Dhillon is its chairman. Punjab chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal said it on Saturday after a high-level review of the situation in Bathinda, Mansa, Fazilka, and Muktsar districts.
Senior officials of the agricultural universities of Punjab and Haryana, Punjab agriculture department, and Central Institute of Cotton Research, Sirsa, attended the meeting. “Besides monitoring crop health, the committee recommend measures against whitefly attack in the Malwa belt. It will sit once a fortnight and submit its report to the government after field visits and research,” said Kaushal.
Based on alerts that whitefly has been spotted again in Abohar and Fazilka, Kaushal told agriculture director JS Bains and the PAU V-C to launch a containing drive in these areas. “We don’t have to boss the farmers but bridge the communication gap with them,” said the chief secretary.
The committee includes PAU research director RK Gumber; director of extension education RS Sidhu; Haryana Agricultural University research director SS Siwach; Duleep Monga, head of the Central Institute of Cotton Research, Sirsa; Prem Lal Nehra of Rajasthan Agricultural University, Bikaner; regional research station director Paramjit Singh; and deputy director (cotton) Sukhdev Singh. Agriculture director Jasbir Singh Bains and horticulture director Gurkanwal Singh will be special invitees.
The Punjab chief secretary directed the agriculture department to get farmers to grow barrier crops such as maize, millet (bajra) and jwar — around the cotton fields. Last year, spurious pesticides and seeds had failed to resist the pest. This year, Kaushal wants farmers provided with the best recommended pesticides. The agriculture department will collect random samples of pesticides and insecticides.