PAU VC blames farmers for whitefly attack on cotton in Malwa

  • Ravinder Vasudeva, Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2015 21:55 IST
Whitefly attack on cotton crops in Bathinda. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

Notwithstanding the heavy loss to the cotton growers of Malwa region due to whitefly attack, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) vice-chancellor Dr BS Dhillon on Saturday blamed the farmers for this distress and expressed helplessness in providing any immediate solution to counter this menace that has ruined the crop in the region.

Dhillon, who was in Jalandhar to inaugurate the Kisan Mela being organised by Jalandhar Potato Growers Association (JPGA), opined that sowing of cotton varieties not recommended by the PAU and sowing the crop before time were the reasons behind the whitefly attack.

"Destruction of crop by whitefly is the result of mismanagement on the part of the cotton growers. Only farmers are responsible for their losses and you cannot blame the government every time. The farmers believe in arhityas and use the seed and spray suggested by them. When you won't believe in PAU scientists, this is going to happen," he said.

Showing helplessness to help the Malwa region farmers who have suffered heavy losses, the VC said, "The PAU is not having any Aladin Ka Chirag (Magic lamp) to kill the whitefly immediately. Few days back, I visited the area destroyed by these insects. Even scientists from Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) were with me and they also opined the same."

Unaware about the presence of mediapersons in the gathering of farmers, the VC said, "I will talk harsh as I get rare opportunity to come in direct talk with farmers. I am sure all press people have gone by now. Every time I say something, they rake up new controversy."

Dhillon even asked the potato growers to mend their ways of growing potato seed. "I got this complaint from an ICAR expert that the standard of potato seed coming from Punjab is decreasing day-by-day. Stop all this and think about your reputation. You must analyse what you are doing," he said.

When questioned about the varsity's failure to come out with any advance seed for potato, Dhillon, who recently got third term as PAU VC, said, "How to carry out the research when we don't have budget to do so. When I forward any research proposal to my junior staff, they says that staff is short. As far as funds are concerned, nowadays private seed growing firms like Monsanto is having more budget than what the all agricultural varsities and the other government institutions spend on research."

However, when a farmer pointed out why the university did not ask the state government to fill the vacancies for agricultural research, the VC said, "Why we expect everything from the state government. When I took as the VC in PAU, the annual budget of state government for the varsity was `184 crore, which has now been increased to `300 crore. It has become farmer's nature to expect everything from the government. They are not ready to pay anything on research. I remember a committee that recommended charging a small amount from farmers for research. You all denied paying this meagre amount."

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