Agri Business

Pink bollworm hits cotton in Gujarat, Maharashtra

Our Bureaus New Delhi/Ahmedabad | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 08, 2017

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The cotton crop in parts of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra has come under pink bollworm attack as there is an erosion of resistance to the pest in some transgenic varieties.

“As per report from the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur, there is a sporadic incidence of pink bollworm damage in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat,” Minister for State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala informed the Lok Sabha in a written answer on Tuesday.

The Maharashtra Government has already directed seed firms to pay a compensation of ₹36.83 lakh to the farmers, he said.

“It is not a serious problem yet, but it can be if care is not taken,” said CD Mayee, a renowned cotton scientist, who is currently associated with the South Asia Biotechnology Centre in New Delhi.

Unlike the American bollworm, there is a drop in resistance to the pink bollworm in certain Bt varieties, he admitted. It normally enters the plant in November-December. If the sowing time is optimum, the problem can be checked, he said.

Meanwhile, the pink bollworm attack has delivered a double blow to farmers in flood-ravaged Gujarat. Most parts of the State where cotton was sown early are experiencing a pink bollworm attack yet again.

North Gujarat affected

State agriculture department officials confirmed the worm attack in almost all the cotton growing districts including Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh and Mehsana in North Gujarat.

According to initial estimates, farmers in Saurashtra and North Gujarat had adopted early cotton sowing on about 1.5 lakh hectares till the early days of the kharif sowing, which normally starts after June 15. The State, which is India’s largest cotton producer, had seen sowing on over 26.35 lakh hectares as on July 31.

Ironically, Gujarat received heavy rains during the past month, with several districts, including Morbi, Jamnagar, Surendranagar, Banaskantha and Patan, receiving devastating downpours, causing flooding in the fields.

Double blow

The State government estimated 25 per cent damage to the cotton sown in the State due to floods. Heavy damage to the crops added to the woes of the farmers. The pink bollworm will increase input costs for farmers.

Government officials claimed that the menace can be contained with chemical treatment. “The treatment of pesticides and insecticides will cost farmers an additional ₹2,000-2,500 per acre. This will add to their cost of cultivation. The remedy is available and this menace can be contained,” said a senior agriculture official from Rajkot district.

According to farmers in the region, the cotton plants have reached flowering stage and the insect has started showing up on the flowers. “This is the initial stage of the bollworm attack. It is still curable, but once we have bolls on the plant, it will cause severe damage,” said a farmer from Jamnagar.

Published on August 08, 2017
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