Punjab to adopt whitefly-hit cotton plots as ‘demo farms’
Chandigarh- Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday directed the Agriculture Department to adopt select cotton plots affected by whitefly pest and use them as ‘demonstration farms’ to educate farmers. For now, this is limited to every village of four districts of Mansa, Bathinda, Muktsar and Fazilka. The idea is to make farmers aware of integrated pest management (IPM), an official spokesperson said after a high-level meeting presided by the chief minister to take stock of the situation following the whitefly attack.Singh is keen that the demonstration farms can be used to impart the latest technology to cotton growers for protection of their crop from pests and insects, particularly whitefly. A total of 1,000 such demonstration farms will be adopted, said the spokesperson, adding that scouts and field staff, in consultation with other officers, will provide basic training on use of recommended pesticides and insecticides, besides proper application of chemical fertilisers and manures.These centres will go a long way in restoring confidence of farmers affected by whitefly, he said. A mere 18.1 hectares of a total 3.82 lakh hectares under cotton cultivation had been damaged by whitefly, the spokesperson said. No loss due to whitefly infestation was reported in Sangrur, Faridkot and Moga districts, he added.The chief minister warned that there will be zero tolerance on any laxity over sale of spurious or sub-standard pesticides to farmers. He also directed officials to crack down on suppliers of such pesticides and ensure exemplary punishment. Cotton is the second major kharif crop of the state after paddy. For kharif 2017, an action plan for cotton production was prepared under which 4 lakh hectares were targeted. The estimated area under cotton during this season is about 3.82 lakh hectares, the spokesperson added.
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