Advises farmers to spray 2kg potassium nitrate per acre; makes estimates of average crop yield

Officials of the Agriculture Department are expecting a bumper cotton crop this season. The department is also advising farmers to spray 2 kg potassium nitrate per acre. The officials are also making estimate of average cotton crop yield. The department has predicted around 8 quintals of cotton per acre in the district. Last year, whitefly damaged almost the entire crop in the cotton belt of Punjab, including Bathinda, Mansa, Fazilka, and other districts. Even this year, whitefly was witnessed on cotton and moong and left farmers in a spot of worry. However, the Agriculture Department came into action and advised the farmers to spray neem water to contain whitefly on their cotton crop. This year, the farmers have preferred ‘desi’ cotton crop over BT cotton. The area under cotton in the cotton belt, including Bathinda and Mansa, witnessed a steep downfall this year. Even the farmers are not getting seeds, recommended by Punjab Agricultural University, for ‘desi’ cotton as all 40 quintals of desi cotton seeds were sold in the early days of the cotton sowing period. A large numbers of farmers, who don’t have enough water facility to sow and irrigate paddy in their fields, had preferred other crops like groundnut, arhar and others alternatives to the cotton crop.

Rain proves beneficial

The rain has proved beneficial for the cotton crop as it helped in neutralising whitefly. The district has witnessed heavy rainfall in last two days and brought cheer to paddy and the cotton farmers. “The rain has also proved to be beneficial for the cotton farmers as it gave them relief from whitefly and the jassid pest attack. The need for water also met as the farmers were facing water shortage for irrigation,” said NS Aulakh, Chief Agriculture Officer, Bathinda. Meetings to review ground situation To counter the whitefly attack this year, Punjab Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal had reviewed the arrangements and preparations on June 4. He constituted an inter-state panel comprising 10 members from neighbouring states Haryana and Rajasthan to evaluate the pest attack and to take necessary measures. The Director Agriculture, the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and experts of various universities were asked to launch a drive in these specific areas so that whitefly, if any, can be prevented to spread. A persuasion campaign amongst farmers to sow barrier crops namely Maize, Jwar and Bajra to contain the pest attack was also organised. The 10-member panel is working in tandem under the chairmanship of Baldev Singh Dhillon, VC PAU, with Director Agriculture Punjab Jasbir Singh Bains and Director Horticulture Gurkanwal Singh, Directors Research PAU RK Gumber, Director Extension Education RS Sidhu, and other members. The consultative and monitoring committees formed by the Chief Secretary in June this year have been holding fortnightly discussions, visiting fields, conducting research works, exploring and sharing techniques to contain the pest attack. Besides, these committees have also been making farmers aware of the barrier crops to save cotton from the whitefly attack. On Saturday, the VC held a meeting with agriculture officials in Abohar.

Source: August 28, 2016, The Tribune