BHAWANIPATNA: IT is a double whammy for cotton growers of Kalahandi district. The crops that faced stunted growth due to less rainfall last month, have now been affected by pests and plant diseases. Cotton – the major cash crop of the district – has been grown in 58,411 hectares (ha) of black cotton soil and sandy loom soil, the highest in the State. This year, the minimum support price of the crop has gone up to `5,450 per quintal from the existing Rs 4,320 and the farmers had expected the cost of cotton procurement to go up to `318 crores. However, their hopes have been dashed with the crops facing pest attack and diseases. The crops are now in flowering to fruit-bearing stage and the farmers are apprehensive that the yield may go down.
Pests like aphids, jasids, mealy bug, white fly, leaf roller and Stem Weevil are munching crops, giving the farmers sleepless nights. What has worried the farmers is that diseases like bacterial leaf blight, angular leaf spot and dry root trot have also attacked the crops.
According to the pest and disease surveillance report of Agriculture Department, 18,000 ha of crops have been affected by pests and 2,500 ha by plant diseases but the report states that the extent of damage is below the economic threshold level (insect’s population level or extent of crop damage at which the value of the crop destroyed exceeds the cost of controlling the pest).
Subject Matter Specialist of Cotton, Narayan Upadhaya said the dry spell from September 22 to October 10 caused stunted growth in crops that were planted in sandy loom soil. However, pest attack has been reported in crops grown in both kinds of soil. “Plant protection chemicals have been supplied to the affected cotton farmers at subsidy of 50 per cent,” he said, adding that there might be 5 pc less crop yield.