Pink Bollworm Threat Looms Over Punjab’s ‘White Gold Belt’ Cotton Crop

In a familiar tale of struggle, Punjab’s cotton crop is once again facing the menace of the pink bollworm, owing to a combination of moisture and heavy rains that have swept across eight districts. This marks the third consecutive year that the state’s cotton fields have been plagued by this persistent infestation, sending ripples of concern through the farming community and the state administration.

In a proactive response to the crisis, the state government has swiftly dispatched officials from the agriculture department to provide critical guidance and support to farmers grappling with the pink bollworm invasion. These officials have been tasked not only with assisting the affected regions but also with delivering daily field reports, ensuring that timely action is taken to quell the infestation’s spread.

The heart of Punjab’s cotton production, known as the ‘white gold belt’, includes districts such as Sri Muktsar Sahib, Bathinda, Fazilka, and Mansa. These areas have borne the brunt of the pink bollworm onslaught, with the next 15 days proving to be make-or-break for the cotton crop. This year’s attack has struck during the flowering stage, threatening to devastate cotton flowers and thereby crippling overall production.

Though the severity of the infestation has raised concerns among farmers and experts, local traders appear to maintain a more measured outlook. Industry insiders have termed this as a routine challenge, expressing hope that the impact on the cotton crop will be contained. Satish Sharma, a seasoned trader from Bathinda, offered his perspective, stating, “While worm attacks have been reported in a limited area, it is important to remember that this is just a fraction of the expansive cotton crop, which covers 1.70 lakh hectares.”

Despite these optimistic assertions, the cotton industry is on edge as it recalls the setbacks suffered in the last couple of years due to similar infestations. These challenges led to significant losses, causing many farmers to rethink their cotton cultivation strategies. Consequently, cotton acreage for the upcoming 2023-24 season is anticipated to plummet to 1.70 lakh hectares, a stark drop from the previous year’s 2.49 lakh hectares.

As Punjab navigates the complexities of combating the pink bollworm while safeguarding its precious cotton crop, the collective hope rests on the diligent efforts of the state’s officials and the resilience of its farming community. As the days unfold, the true impact of the infestation will become clearer, shedding light on the future of Punjab’s cotton fields and the farmers who tirelessly tend to them.



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