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18K Acres of Cotton Crop in Punjab Affected by Insects

According to The Tribune's inquiries, the attack was caused by the low-quality BT cotton seed that some Gujarat-based companies provided to local farmers.

Shruti Kandwal
Some people are paying thousands of rupees on insecticides because they have decided to go with cotton.
Some people are paying thousands of rupees on insecticides because they have decided to go with cotton.

A number of insects, including whiteflies, pink bollworms, and mealybugs, have attacked hundreds of hectares of land where cotton is grown. Cotton was long known as the "white gold" of agriculture. This will probably have an impact on cotton production this year.

Several villages in the cotton belt, which includes districts in the southern Malwa area, have reported the issue. As a result, several farmers in the villages of Mansa and Bathinda have ploughed their fields and chosen to transplant paddy. Some people are paying thousands of rupees on insecticides because they have decided to go with cotton.

“The number, which district agriculture officials shared, is significantly higher in Bathinda. The worst part is that the agriculture minister did not follow through on his promise to farmers to look into the sale of substandard seeds and set a helpline,” said a Senior Scientist from a recognized agricultural institute who refuse to be named.

He further added, “Those who had access to irrigation invested heavily in expensive paddy seeds and began farming. Others are paying an extra Rs 1,000 per acre for pesticides to protect their crops from pink bollworm and whitefly. In some areas, sprays for mealy bugs too have to be used.”

According to The Tribune's inquiries, the attack was caused by the low-quality BT cotton seed that some Gujarat-based companies provided to local farmers, but the problem with whiteflies in the cotton belt was brought on by the farmers' decision to plant moong in June.

"Moong is vulnerable to attack by whiteflies. The whitefly only attacked the crop after it was harvested and cotton seeds were sowed. We will make sure that moong cultivation is banned in the cotton belt starting in the following year,” according to another senior agriculture department official.

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