With farmers in the cotton growing belt reeling from the attack of whitefly pest on their standing crop, the quality and effectiveness of insecticides and pesticides proposed by the government has also come under the scanner with farmers dubbing the pesticide as useless.
The Punjab agriculture department deployed its teams to give demonstrations on the proper use of the pesticides, but even their experiments failed. The government is providing 50% subsidy on widely-promoted pesticide 'Oberon' this season. Sensing heavy losses, farmers have started to uproot several hectares of cotton crop in many of the areas. Nearly 4.5 lakh hectares is under cotton cultivation across the state, more than 75% of which is concentrated in Bathinda, Muktsar, Fazilka and Ferozepur districts. A team from the union agriculture ministry visited the districts recently and has asked the state government to prepare a detail report of damage to cotton crop.
A senior agriculture department official said that the team from the Centre also cited the use of susceptible varieties of cotton seeds, especially purchased from outside the state, as one of the main reason behind the whitefly attack.
Bathinda chief agriculture officer Rakesh Kumar Singla said, "We had cross-checked the quality of the pesticides being supplied. It is true that we have received information of its ineffectiveness in some areas."
He added, "At places, where the attack of the pest is severe, pesticides have remained non-effective. Moreover, we have asked farmers to adopt integrated pest control or pesticide free measures, used by farmers decades ago," he said.
Jasbir Singh, a farmer, said he had sprayed Oberon on his crop more than five times, times, but did n0t get any relief. "Finally, I had no option than to clear my cotton crop," he added.
'Insensitivity of govt leading to suicide'
Bathinda: With the farmers protest entered into third consecutive day, the farmer leaders believed that the insensitivity of government in tackling crop damage was one of the major reasons that led to suicide by farmers.
Though the state government has already asked its field officers to control the pest attack, but farmers say this was too little too late.
Shingara Singh, district president of Bhartiya kisan union (Ekta Ugarahan) claimed, "The whitefly attack was reported from June-end. Where was the government then and no action was taken then?"