1. Crop Care

Combating Pink Bollworm to Revive Cotton Production and Increase Farmers Income in India

Vipin Saini
Vipin Saini
farmers
Seeds distribution to women farmers

A multi-stakeholder “PROJECT BANDHAN: A Knot of PBW Protection” to embrace the cutting-edge innovation by tagging PB Knot to protect the cotton plant from devastating Pink Bollworm – an analogous to the magic of tying a ‘rakhi’ on Raksha Bandhan.

Adopting two villages Adasa and Waroda in Vidarbha’s Nagpur district to display IPM Package of Practices and implement mating disruption technology on a mass scale to control Pink Bollworm (PBW).

Intensifying scientific outreach and PBW campaign in collaboration with the cotton value chain partners & technical guidance of CICR for management & eradication of PBW.

Adasa/Waroda, Nagpur (June 09, 2021) – The South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) in collaboration with Agrovision Foundation, Nagpur, has launched an innovative and multi-stakeholder “PROJECT BANDHAN: A Knot of PBW Protection” to embrace the cutting-edge innovation by tagging PB Knot to protect the cotton plant from devastating PBW (Pectinophora gossypiella). Project Bandhan is akin to the magic of tying a ‘rakhi’ on Raksha Bandhan. 

Project Bandhan is supported jointly by PI Foundation and Rasi Seeds Pvt Ltd and is being implemented across Vidarbha, Maharashtra, in partnership with cotton and textile value chain partners. The project aims at demonstrating mating disruption technology, promoting integrated pest management (IPM) based package of practices (POP) developed by ICAR-CICR, intensifying skill development and training programs and amplifying effective PBW control measures to farmers across the Vidarbha region. As part of launching ceremony, Project Bandhan has distributed high quality Bt cotton hybrid seeds & IPM based POP in four clusters to 500 smallholder farmers of village Adasa/Waroda of Nagpur today.

The unusual outbreak of PBW, a mysterious pest, hit cotton growers hard in Maharashtra in Kharif during 2020-21. There has been a noticeable increase in PBW infestation in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in recent years. Though large scale Bt cotton cultivation provides inbuilt protection against notorious American bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), the emergence of PBW has become the new enemy of cotton farmers. While Helicoverpa infestation resulted in definite yield loss, PBW infestation primarily affects the lint quality, though its early occurrence may even lead to reduction in yield and significant losses.

The time of emergence, pattern of occurrence and the scale of spread have made the situation not only difficult but also one that can cause significant loss to the cotton growers. The infestation was reported in August 2020 and it occurred at contiguous places across the geographies at the time of sowing, agronomic practices, and pest management practices and cropping patterns.

Seeds Distribution and Farmer Meeting

“We could pre-empt the emergence of Pink Bollworm in cotton as we began to address its sporadic occurrence in Bt cotton growing areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra as early as 2015. Contrary to the American Bollworm, we knew that Pink Bollworm can be easily managed with proper agronomy, the time of sowing and effective pest control measures. We successfully implemented awareness and training programs across Vidarbha in the last 3-4 years, consecutively. The outbreak in 2020 was a wakeup call. We seized the opportunity to roll-out innovative and environment-friendly mating disruption technology to manage pink bollworm in Kharif 2021,” explained Dr. CD Mayee, President of the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC), New Delhi, and advisor to Agrovision Foundation, Nagpur.

Mating disruption is an innovative pheromone-based technique that interferes with the reproductive cycle of PBW in such a manner that the population levels are significantly reduced and crop damage is diminished. The Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) had approved the pheromone-based mating disruption technology in the IPM strategies for controlling the population of PBW in India for the first time in 2019-20. Available in the form of the solid metric dispenser rope (PB Knot), it can be easily tagged to the cotton plant. It releases sex pheromones to prevent male moth finding females and mating, thus disrupting the reproductive cycle. The mating disruption is emerging as a powerful tool to manage pest such as PBW and has become a part of the IPM module.

“Project Bandhan is an exemplary initiative to promote pheromone based IPM production system of cotton. The novel PB Knot pheromone technology is easy to use, affordable and environmental friendly innovation to manage the devastating pest such as Pink Bollworm,” noted Mr. Prashant Hedge, CEO (Agri Business) at PI Industries Ltd. “As part of the CSR initiative, PI Foundation is keen to support the area wide implementation of Project Bandhan and is committed to sustainable agriculture and environmental protection,” Mr. Hedge added.

“Rasi Seeds Pvt Ltd has been supporting the Pink Bollworm campaign in Vidarbha for the last two years, implemented jointly by the South Asia Biotechnology Centre and Agrovision Foundation. Our joint efforts have resulted in the management of Pink Bollworm, particularly in Vidarbha. We reinforce our commitment to support the innovative technology and programs to improve the cotton production and farmers’ realization. Project Bandhan is a unique program dedicated to showcase the utility, efficacy of novel mating disruption technology and IPM based production system,” stated Dr Ramasami, Chairman of Rasi Seeds Pvt Ltd.

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