The Centre is considering setting up a high-level committee for monitoring and checking the spread of whitefly attack on cotton in Malwa.

Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said that a five-member team that had recently visited the whitefly affected areas last week suggested various measures to check the pest attack.

The report has found whitefly infestation on the cotton crop in 4,400 hectares in Fazilka.

The committee would also have a representative from the state government which will also monitor crop situation and also prevent spread of whitefly in other areas of the state.

Based on the report, the state government has been asked to take steps to prevent damage to the crop and advise growers to only spray recommended chemicals.

Tota Singh said the state government has already taken proactive steps this year to control whitefly pest so that the farmers do not suffer losses. The whitefly attack had caused widespread damage to Bt-cotton varieties in Punjab last year.

More than 1.35 lakh hectares out of 4.5 lakh hectares of cotton acreage was ravaged by whitefly attack in the previous season. Thus, the output was also affected by about 40 per cent.
It may be mentioned that the cotton growing area in the state has come down to 2.6 lakh hectares as against 4.5 lakh hectares last year.

Source: July 26, 2016, The Tribune