Flood-affected cotton farmers in Gujarat are now worried about pink bollworm attacks on the cotton crop.
Flood-affected cotton farmers in Gujarat are now worried about pink bollworm attacks on the cotton crop. According to the farmers, almost the entire Saurashtra region of the state has been stricken by the insect, while north Gujarat has been partially affected.
Gujarat is the largest cotton-producing state in India. According to the data of Gujarat’s agriculture department, cotton sowing has been done on over 2.63 million hectares as on July 31 this year, against 2.18 million hectares in corresponding period last year. However, the state witnessed very heavy rain in July. As per the government’s initial estimate, 25-30% of cotton areas have possibly been damaged due to excess rainfall.
“We have received pink bollworm complaints from across Saurashtra, where farmers have sown cotton in early stage. It is also spreading in other parts of Gujarat. As the insect affects the cotton flower, it may damage the yield and quality,” said AV Khanpara, associate research scientist at the main dry farming research station of Junagadh Agriculture University (JAU). Khanpara advised farmers to use pheromone traps to control the bollworm. It is an affordable and easy way to control the insect.
However, agriculture experts said that wrong farming practices and use of non-certified BT cotton seeds are the main reasons for the pink bollworm.
LK Dhaduk, cotton research station, JAU, said, “Farmers are not doing proper practice. Generally, non-BT cotton should be sown surrounding BT cotton plants, but for a long time, farmers have not been doing it; as result, immunity of pink bollworm has increased in the last couple of years. Moreover, farmers are using non-certified BT cotton seed varieties, which are not capable to resist it.”
According to officials, around 20% of farmers in the state start sowing cotton in May while 80% start planting after the third week of June, which means the flowering stage occurs in September. What usually happens is that farmers keep the crop standing in fields for a long time and continue picking till February-March. The pink bollworm is a winter pest, which causes damage mainly in November, which can be prevented. Lack of timely and appropriate management initiatives has led to continuous proliferation of the insect.
According to JAU, the university released an advisory before the monsoon but farmers are not seriously following it. Farmers also admit that they are not ready for the sudden attack of the pink bollworm.