Cotton plantations in Punjab have come under a major ‘Whitefly’ attack, triggering fears of a massive yield loss in the Kharif crop in the State.
With cotton growing areas witnessing the “worst” attack of whiteflies in past five years, experts are blaming humid weather conditions for the widespread attack.
“Whitefly attack has hit cotton crop in several areas of the state, which will impact the overall yield of the crop,” Punjab Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said here on Monday.
“Because of the whitefly attack, cotton growers are going to suffer heavy losses,” he added.
The Minister said he has written to the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to conduct special crop loss assessment of the affected areas for compensating the farmers. Total area under cotton crop in Punjab is about 4.5 lakh hectares and is mainly grown in Fazilka, Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar and Abohar.
The state government has deputed a team of experts including farm scientists of Punjab Agricultural University to give a report on the impact of whitefly attack and suggest measures to be taken by growers to minimise their losses.
“Whitefly attack is seen in cotton fields near areas where other crop like paddy, moong (pulses), vegetables like okra and orchards has also been sown. Its impact has also been seen on early sown variety crop,” the minister said while adding that humid weather conditions were mainly responsible for the spread of the disease.
Whitefly sucks sap from the leaves of cotton, thus hitting the growth of the plant.
Experts have also blamed the use of unrecommended varieties of cotton seed by farmers.
Notably, Punjab government has been encouraging growers to bring more area under cotton crop as part of its plans to decrease area under paddy crop.
Area under cotton in Punjab this season failed to reach the targeted acreage of 5.25 lakh hectares set by the state government because of “lesser” prices fetched by growers last year.