The pink bollworm has again attacked cotton plants in Maharashtra this year, causing concern among farmers and the State government.
The pest had caused large-scale damage to the cotton crop last year in central and eastern Maharashtra, the State’s main regions producing the commodity.
The pink bollworm attack on cotton has been reported this year from Akola and Washim districts in Vidarbha and Nanded and Parbhani in Marathawada, a senior official in the agriculture department said. “The pest has again shown its presence. It has attacked plants in their early stages of growth. If the pest is not controlled in time, the plants will die and there will be no yield,” he said.
Pink bollworm is an insect which chews through the cotton lint to feed on the seeds. Since cotton is used for both fibre and seed oil, the damage is two-fold.
This year, cotton cultivation has been done on about 37 lakh hectares of land in the State as against the 41 lakh hectares last year, the official said.
The plants are sown from April to July in the State.
Farmers who generally opt for pre-seasonal (April-May) plantation have shifted to other crops, which has brought down the overall cotton plantation figures in the state, the official said.
A farmer from Nanded district said there was no assurance from the State government on controlling the pink bollworm attack or any communication about advanced methods to check its spread. “Therefore, many farmers decided to change the crop as they had lost the cotton yield last year. The financial aid, as announced by the government for the damage to crops, was also not properly disbursed,” he claimed.
The Maharashtra government had last year announced that it would offer financial assistance to farmers for crops damaged by pests.