Even as the Punjab government, following the pink bollworm attack, has ordered a probe to find whether farmers were supplied spurious BT cotton seeds, agriculture experts attribute the crop infestation in the state’s Malwa region to poor farm practices.
“There is not much merit in claims on seed quality,” said Vijay Kumar, principal entomologist at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, while pointing to the varied incidence of infestation in different districts.
“Our assessment suggests a bumper crop this time and a good yield may overcome the loss incurred by farmers due to bollworm infestation,” he said.
“Even as the area affected by pink bollworm (PBW) In Bathinda district, where the infestation was first reported on a small patch in 2018, has been increasing over the years and extended to the adjoining areas of Mansa district as well, field surveillance has found that pest severity is limited to three blocks: Bathinda, Sangat and Talwandi,” said Kumar.
Rakesh Rathi, the director, Indian Cotton Association Limited, said in spite of the pest attack, the industry is hopeful of Punjab reaching last year’s production of 50 lakh quintals.
Meanwhile, Fazilka has not reported any case, and in Muktsar it was found at only three to four spots, said Kumar, who has been engaged in containing bollworm attacks for the past five years.