Agri Business

Locusts threaten cotton crop in the North

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on May 27, 2020

The North zone accounts for 17 per cent of the country’s total 330 lakh bales of production   -  THE HINDU

CAI writes to Centre seeking quick control measures

In what could be an early setback for the 2020-21 cotton crop, the desert locusts are seen posing a threat to the fibre crop in North India. Farmers in Rajasthan and parts of Punjab have started raising alarm over the locust attack that has started ravaging their recently-sowed cotton crop.

“Tiddis (locusts) have nearly destroyed the fresh vegetation of the cotton plants. The situation is bad in northern and western Rajasthan. The plantation is just at the early stage and if immediate action is not taken, the damage will spread over to other districts,” said Dalveer Singh, a farmer from western Rajasthan. Cotton farms in the northern districts of Shri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Gharsana and Rawla among others have been affected. The exact acreage affected is not known.

Farmers in Punjab have also expressed fears of an attack. Speaking to BusinessLine, Ashwani Jhamb, a farmer from Punjab, said, “The cotton plants have grown to just 6-9 inches. So far, we haven’t seen any large-scale attack in the State, but there are fears that it may turn towards Punjab next month or so. If it happens, it will be disastrous for cotton growers.”

Nearly 80 per cent sowing has been completed in North India. Last year, cotton was planted on about 17 lakh hectares in these States. The planting started in April. The North zone accounts for 17 per cent of the country’s total 330 lakh bales (each of 170 kg) of production.

In view of the vulnerability of the cotton crop to possible locust attack, the Cotton Association of India (CAI) has written to the Centre for immediate measures to control the menace.

CAI has written to the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar seeking urgent steps “for controlling these locusts’ attacks and also please advise the concerned central and state government agencies to issue necessary guidelines to the farmers in order to protect their interest and jointly fight against this menace,” Atul Ganatra, President, CAI said in the letter sent on Tuesday.

In a separate letter to the Union Minister for Textiles, Smriti Irani, Ganatra also requested the Ministry to initiate appropriate measures “to get rid of the locusts’ attacks, which are creating havoc in some parts of our country.”

Locust presence is spotted in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. These States produce about 236.5 lakh bales or 71 per cent of the country’s total cotton production estimated for 2019-20.

Published on May 27, 2020

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