Adopting Scientific Farming Practices to Reduce Farmer’s Burden of 75% Cotton Crop Loss Caused by White Fly Infestation in Punjab, Says Multi Stakeholders

Adopting Scientific Farming Practices to Reduce Farmer’s Burden of 75% Cotton Crop Loss Caused by White Fly Infestation in Punjab, Says Multi Stakeholders

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CropLife India

New Delhi, Delhi, India

An interactive stakeholder meeting of ICAR, State Agricultural Universities (PAU, HAU, RAU), CICR, Ministry of Agriculture, scientists, agrochemical industry associations, state government representatives, department of agriculture and the farming community met to deliberate effective management of  white fly pest attacks in the cotton crop in multiple states. Dr. J.S. Sandhu DDG (Crop Science), ICAR, in his introductory remark mentioned that, “It is indeed important for the scientific community, government and industry stakeholders to get together find out the scientific options available or to develop a strategy for effective management of whitefly in northern India, to avoid repetition of such incidents repeated in the other parts of the country where cotton is grown, while deliberating on the development of scientific options to effectively manage future pest attacks.”

Dr. T. Mohapatra, Secretary DARE and DG ICAR said, “This devastating pest attack has affected the incomes of several farmers especially in the Malwa Region of Punjab, wherein more than 4.5 Lakh Hectares were under cotton crop this year. Hence, it is important that the group finds out a way to eradicate this menace.”

In his key note address Dr. A. Rami Horowitz, Agricultural Research organization Israel, spoke about the insect pest management with special reference to whitefly management at a global perspective.

Several cases have been reported by the State Agriculture Department including improper spraying of pesticides, late sowing, and inclement weather with heavy rains in June followed by dry spell in July last year, which led to a high level of infestation of white fly in northern cotton growing states.

Dr. S.N. Sushil, Plant Protection Advisor (PPA), to the Ministry of Agriculture & farmer welfare, emphasized on need to curb the menace of spurious pesticides and seeds white promoting the need for using recommended pesticides only.

Dr. SK Malhotra Commissioner Agriculture GOI reiterated the need to manage the whitefly in early stage of infestation and layout of frontline demonstration amongst farmers.

Mr. Sanjay Lohiya, Joint Secretary, called for a holistic approach to manage whitefly infestation from all avenues, while emphasizing the need to manage the cropping pattern rather than from a crop perspective.

Dr Rajvir Rathi, representing CropLife India, during his vote of thanks mentioned, “While the industry empathizes with the crop losses faced in Punjab and Haryana, it is important that multiple stakeholders including Scientists, Agriculture Department, state government, Industry associations and any other relevant stakeholders should collaborate and discuss the future course of action to deal with such heavy pest infestations”.

The Directors of Research from the various agricultural universities of Ludhiana, Bikaner and Hissar spoke about the mitigating strategies like timely sowing by farmers, choosing whitefly tolerant/ resistant seed varieties and hybrids to white curl virus, timely use of insecticide with recommended dosages, correct usage of nozzle size during spray application to farmers.

A broader consensus emerged from the interactive meeting which included the following recommendations :

  • Extension of training activities on white fly to farmers, dealers and farming community.
  • Advice on spurious and fake pesticides and seeds.
  • Release of canal water for timely sowing of cotton seeds.
  • Recommending only white fly tolerant or resistant varieties/hybrid seeds for sowing which is less susceptible.
  • Use of recommended insecticides and pesticides to farmers.
  • Training to pesticide dealers on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in cotton and selling recommended insecticides.
  • To ensure farmers receive agronomic advisory from recommended persons.
  • Change in application of pesticide spraying technology.
  • Pesticides application technology training to farmers and field staff.
  • Shortlisting of hybrids /varieties for correct usage and pesticide container management.

The discussion focused on scientific farming including Good Agricultural Practices/IPM and a risk mitigation plan to counter such infestations in short and long term to manage whitefly in a sustainable manner.