Disaster strikes: Maha farmers lose 84% cotton crop to pest attack
At a time when the state government is expecting compensation from the Centre and insurance cover, a recent survey revealed that cotton crop on 34.39 lakh hectares or 84% of the total area under cultivation has fallen prey to pink bollworm. Aurangabad has been the worst-hit, with farmers losing cotton crop planted on 4.81 lakh hectares.
The data collated by the revenue and agriculture department from villages growing cotton have revealed that several districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha have been hit badly by the pink bollworm attack.
After Aurganbad, farmers from Beed [4 lakh hectares], Nanded [2.89 hectares] and Yavatmal [2.81 hectares] have suffered the most. Farmers in Ahmednagar [2.56 lakh hectares] in western Maharashtra and Jalgaon [2.15 lakh hectares] northern Maharashtra too have incurred a heavy loss.
Farmers in more than 20 districts of Marathwada, Vidarbha and other regions had cultivated cotton on 41lakh hectares, which is more than 30% of the total area under cultivation in the state. About 98% of the farmers use BT Cotton seeds, which are said to be pest resistant. But the attack was witnessed immediately after first two picking of the standing crop. This wreaked havoc in the agriculture sector, as the farmers were expecting the total crop to reach four crore quintal from last year’s produce of three crore quintal.
Officials from the agriculture department said the actual loss to the farmers may vary and might range between 50% and 80% because the first two picks of the cotton yielded sizable produce.
The state has announced compensation to cotton farmers, who incurred losses, from the insurance cover, seed companies and funds allocated under National Disaster Response Fund. It also sought financial aid of Rs2,430 crore from Centre under NDRF.
“The actual loss of crop will be ascertained after punchnamas are completed. We expect most of the farmer to qualify for the NDRF compensation,” said Bijay Kumar, principal secretary, agriculture department.