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India's cotton yield to decline on whitefly, pink bollworm attacks

From north to west, farmers seek protection from pest attacks to improve productivity

Dilip Kumar Jha  |  Mumbai 

cotton, cotton yield

In a major disappointment for new entrant farmers, crop has come under severe pest and attacks in major producing states, which is sparking fears of a sharp decline in India's fibre this season.

While a substantial area came under attack in Punjab and Haryana, pink was reported to have attacked standing crop in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Consequently, analysts have started revising estimates of output growth for the current season to 4-5 per cent now from 10 per cent earlier on a sharp increase in acreage.

If this estimate proves true, farmers who shifted from pulses and edible oilseeds to sow for better realisation would certainly get disappointed with a possible decline in their income this year due to low output. Therefore, despite farmers' strategic shift for high income-oriented crops, their woos are likely to continue even this year as well.

"crop is reported to have damaged in Gujarat due to There is no such report in Maharashtra. An assessment of crop damage and its overall impact on would be decided in the next Advisory Board (CAB) meeting scheduled next week," said Kavita Gupta, Textile Commissioner, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Cotton graph
Source: Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Compiled by BS Research Bureau
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala on Tuesday stated in the Lok Sabha that the Central Institute for Research (CICR), Nagpur, assessed the sporadic incidents of pink damage in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Acting immediately to avoid farmers' menace, the government of Maharashtra, according to sources, has ordered seed firms to pay a compensation of Rs 36,83,000 to farmers in the state.

"Pest/attacks have been a regular phenomenon which appears every year," said Arun Sakseria, a city - based trader and exporter.

Incidentally, high yielding seeds with Bt technology are claimed to have protection from which helped farmers increase their income in initial years of its launch of around 15-year ago. But, crop in India has witnessed sporadic attacks of bollworms in the last few years with over 90 per cent of farmers adopting Bt seeds. Meanwhile, many hybrid seed companies are studying to introduce seeds with better potential of Meanwhile, farmers are looking for high yielding seeds for better returns from hybrid or Bt genes. The government's enactment of Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers' Rights Authority (PPVFR), to which Nuziveedu seeds is an active promoter, protects farmers' legitimate right to obtain seeds at an affordable cost.

The Union Ministry of Agriculture in its bulletin dated August 4 estimated India's acreage at 11.43 million hectares (ha) so far this sowing season 2017-18, over 18 per cent increase from its level at 9.65 million ha by the same time last year. Many oilseeds and pulses farmers shifted from their perennial crop in anticipation of high returns.

Following high acreage, Gupta had earlier estimated at least 10 per cent increase in output this year. Interestingly, however, analysts and spot traders have feared massive crop damage across Punjab and Haryana due to attacks. Crop damage was also reported in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra on attacks following excessive rainfalls and thereafter.

A Religare report, citing a reference from the Central Institute for Research, estimates whiteflies affect around 15,000 ha of crop in Haryana, the state which witnessed a record 25 per cent increase in sowing area to 630,000 ha (500,000 ha last year) till July-end. Reflecting the trend, the benchmark Shankar 6 variety of jumped by 1.5 per cent over the last two weeks in spot trade to Rs 11,923 a quintal here on Tuesday.

"Many farmers who grew pulses, such as pigeon pea, and green gram or oilseeds, such as groundnut, are going for as the cash crop fetched a good price last year. However, crop damage reports from excess rains were reported later on. Heavy rains in Gujarat have created apprehensions of crop damage with 22 - 25 per cent damage in sowing as per initial estimates. Banaskantha and Patan districts are where a sizable amount of crop, sown over 600,000 ha, has been destroyed in flood," the report said.

First Published: Thu, August 10 2017. 01:00 IST