Cotton farmers fear whitefly attack in hot, humid weather; experts say no threat
The cotton belt of Punjab — districts of Bathinda, Faridkot, Mansa and Muktsar — have had no rain for the past few weeks.punjab Updated: Jul 27, 2017 12:08 IST
The cotton belt of Punjab — districts of Bathinda, Faridkot, Mansa and Muktsar — have had no rain for the past few weeks. This, and the hot and humid weather, has cotton farmers like Ramandeep Singh, a farmer of Bathinda rural, worried. “We need rain as only it can wash the plant and take away the threat of whitefly. Sprays only protect the leaves,” he says. Gurbaj Singh, another cotton farmer, is in the same boat.
Experience has shown that hot and humid weather and no rain are ideal weather conditions for the growth of whitefly which created havoc in 2015, destroying 65% of the cotton crop of the region. That year, 20 farmers ended their lives in the region.
No threat at the moment: district admn
Shashi Kumar, block agriculture officer, Bathinda, dispels the worries of farmers like Ramandeep, offeringh technical evidence. “The plants are bigger and better this year. This in not 2015 when thew whitefly pest surfaced in June itself,” he added, claiming that the department had appointed scouts to educate farmers on pesticides to be used, if at all a portion of the crop was affected.
Bathinda agriculture development officer Baljinder Singh said the department had started a weed-eradication programme in February as weeds are foster home for whitefly.
“More than 20 teams have been formed to hold camps in villages. The menace of whitefly is difficult to control once an outbreak occurs, but with right precautionary measures, the disease can be tackled,” he said.