A Central team, which visited Punjab to assess the impact of whitefly attack on cotton crop, today asked the state government to be watchful and continuously monitor the crop to prevent damage.

However, the five-member team led by Plant Protection Adviser SN Sushil observed that there was no need to panic as situation was under control.

The team constituted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare found that whitefly had attacked cotton fields which were located close to kinnow orchards.

The team visited Abohar, Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa areas of the state where whitefly attack has been spotted. “We found two blocks in Abohar where the economic threshold limit in the current whitefly attack was more,” Sushil said.

“Out of 36,000 hectares of the cotton area in 10-15 villages in Abohar, the whitefly attack was on 4,400 hectares which is about 10 per cent of the area,” he said.

However, the situation in Mansa, Bathinda and Muktsar areas was normal, he said.

“There is no need to panic at this stage as the situation has not gone out of control,” he said.

Dr Sushil along with Dr BS Phogat, assistant adviser, plant protection; Dr KS Kapur, Assistant Director, Agriculture; Dr Jagdish Bains, Dr Rajinder Singh and Dr Sukhdev Singh, Deputy Director (Cotton), and district officials held a meeting to gather feedback. They later visited Panjkosi, Gumjal, Panniwala Mahla, Sardarpura, Killianwali and Dangarkhera villages, inspected the cotton fields and interacted with farmers.

Sushil said non-availability of canal water or poor supply was also one of the reasons behind the whitefly menace as farmers could not do sowing as per the calendar provided by Punjab Agriculture University (PAU).

The experts said neem solution spray was best to tackle the whitefly attack. Farmers should not use excessive quantity of insecticides that were not recommended as they kill friendly pests.
The team would soon submit its report to the Union Government and recommend some measures to check the menace.

Source: July 16, 2016, The Tribune