Pink bollworm infestation: Impact to be reassessed as cotton sales belie projections

Sources said that the trend of cotton arrival in different mandis of Punjab’s southern districts at this stage was not indicative of major crop loss due to pink bollworm infestation
Official data does not hint at a major difference in the sales of cotton till the third week of October as compared to the corresponding period of 2020 when the yield was bumper. The reports of the district authorities had projected 76-100% loss in productivity due to pink bollworm infestation in Bathinda and Mansa, the key cotton-growing districts.
Official data does not hint at a major difference in the sales of cotton till the third week of October as compared to the corresponding period of 2020 when the yield was bumper. The reports of the district authorities had projected 76-100% loss in productivity due to pink bollworm infestation in Bathinda and Mansa, the key cotton-growing districts.
Updated on Oct 25, 2021 01:23 AM IST
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ByVishal Joshi, Bathinda

The state government on Saturday ordered a re-assessment of losses to the cotton crop due to pink bollworm infestation after doubts were raised over the field inspection reports.

Sources said that the trend of cotton arrival in different mandis of Punjab’s southern districts was not indicative of major crop loss at this stage. “Initial girdawari inputs submitted last week claimed that standing crop on 4-lakh acres of the 7-lakh acres area was severely hit. However, the sale of raw cotton in mandis is inconsonant with the loss projections. Government is sensitive to farmers’ concern but a reassessment of cotton crop losses was needed for objective financial support to the affected persons,” said a cabinet minister privy to the development, requesting anonymity.

According to the reports of the district authorities, Bathinda and Mansa, key cotton-growing districts, suffered 76-100% loss of productivity. It was also stated that more than 80% of the total area in the two districts was under severe pest attack. Pockets of Sangrur and Muktsar had a limited impact, the reports said.

However, official data does not hint at a major difference in the sale of cotton till the first three weeks of October in the corresponding period of 2020 when the bumper yield was reported.

In the 2020 kharif season, about 50-lakh quintal cotton was produced and almost half of the produce was purchased by the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), a central agency.

Punjab Mandi Board cotton state coordinator Rajnish Goel said till October 21, 2020, 6.01-lakh quintal cotton arrived in mandis in seven districts. In the corresponding period this year, 5.28-lakh quintal raw cotton was purchased. This season, the rate of cotton has touched an all-time high of 8,380 per quintal, he said.

This year 3.3-lakh hectare area was under cotton cultivation, an increase of 17% than that of the 2020-21 kharif season. Yarn sector hopes that Punjab would reach last year’s production of 50-lakh quintals.

Till October 21 this year, Bathinda, stated to be the worst-hit district, has seen cotton purchase of 1.08-lakh quintals whereas in the corresponding period last season, 1.60-lakh quintals were sold by farmers in the mandis.

Till Thursday, Mansa saw sales of 1.19-lakh quintals whereas the district recorded a sale of 1.46-lakh quintals. Official data says about 80,000 quintal crop was purchased at various mandis in the cotton belt spread across south Punjab till September 21. In the corresponding period last kharif season, various purchase centres had reported the arrival of only 1,637 quintals.

Vice-president of Mansa arhtiya association Chanderkant Garg said the cotton rate may even touch 9,000 per quintal as the yarn is in great demand in the international market. “The actual impact of the pest attack may be known by November-end when cotton harvesting will be over as currently, the farmers are rushing their produce to the market,” said Garg, who also owns a cotton mill.

Box:

Cotton sale in mandis

Bathinda Mansa Punjab

October 21, 2021 1.08 lakh quintals 1.19 lakh quintals 5.28 lakh quintals

October 21, 2020 1.60 lakh quintals 1.46 lakh quintals 6.01 lakh quintals

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