Central team to visit whitefly-hit cotton areas in Punjab

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New Delhi, July 13: A central team will visit Punjab in the next two days to assess the impact of whitefly attack on cotton crop in the state for the second straight year, the Agriculture Ministry said today. Whitefly has caused huge damage to the kharif crop in the flowering stage in Punjab.

"A few pockets of Fazilka, Mansa and Bathinda districts are facing whitefly menace. ...Ministry of Agriculture is sending a team to Punjab," an official statement said. A five-member team will visit the affected areas in the next two days.

cotton-plants

The team will make an assessment and submit the report, it added. Whitefly had caused widespread damage to Bt cotton varieties in Punjab and Haryana last year. In Punjab, 1.36 lakh hectares out of total 4.50 lakh hectares of cotton acreage was ravaged by whitefly last season and the output had dropped 40 per cent.

This time, the whitefly attack was spotted on cotton crop planted near orchards in Abohar, known for Kinnow fruit. Notably, because of the fear of whitefly, cotton acreage in Punjab saw one of the biggest declines in the current season as crop area shrunk to 2.56 lakh hectares as against 4.50 lakh hectares last season.

In the current kharif season, massive training programmes were conducted in cotton-growing areas of Punjab, persuading growers to timely sow recommended varieties of crop, along with other steps to prevent massive crop damage.

Besides, the state had hired 500 trained youth for educating growers through training camps to protect their crop from pests including whitefly.

PTI

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