Canals still dry, pest risk up for cotton crop

By Times Of India on 26 Apr 2018
BATHINDA: Unavailability of canal water for sowing the cotton crop is giving sleepless nights to growers in Muktsar and Fazilka districts. Though farmers started to sow the cash crop in mid-April, water will be released in canals which pass through these two districts on April 28.
A major reason behind the farmers’ concern is that the cotton crop is more prone to pest attacks when it sowed late. With the whitefly pest causing widespread damage to the cotton crop in Punjab in 2016, cultivators are saying they cannot survive another bad season in 3 years. Sowing of the crop will continue till May 15. Sowing of the fibre crop till the first week of May is considered ideal. Punjab irrigation department officials said water would be released in these districts on April 28, and it would reach the tail end by April 30. In Bathinda and Mansa, though, canal water reached most parts by April 21.




Sources said even after water gets released in Fazilka and Muktsar, most of it might be used for irrigation of kinnow orchards. Abohar and Khuian Sarwar blocks of Fazilka are more prone to pest attack due to large number of kinnow orchards. Here, late sowing of cotton could adversely affect the crop. According to information with Punjab agriculture and farmer welfare department, cotton had been sown over nearly 2,000 hectares by April 24. It has fixed a target of 4lakh hectares for sowing cotton in the state this year. Sources said cotton acreage might not cross 3.5 lakh hectares as yield was below expectations in the previous season and its rates prices remained under Rs 5,000 per quintal. In 2017, cotton was sown over 3.82 lakh hectares. “We are waiting for water to be released in distributaries, so that we can sow cotton. We plan to sow the crop over five acres,” said farmer Santokh Singh from Khuian Sarwar.


Irrigation department superintending engineer (SE) at Ferozepur, H S Chahal, cited cleaning of distributaries for the delay. “It will be completed in a couple of days. Initially, the plan was to release water sometime between April 7 and 21, but was delayed due to repairs.”


Agriculture and farmer welfare department joint director Sukhdev Singh confirmed that sowing was getting delayed in Muktsar and Fazilka due to non-availability of canal water. “The department has taken up matter with the irrigation department and PSPCL. We have advised farmers to complete sowing of cotton by May 15 as delay makes the crop prone to pest attacks,” he said.