Bollworm attack: compensate cotton farmers, says Pawar

NCP chief visits Yavatmal district, meets affected farmers

November 18, 2017 01:04 am | Updated 01:04 am IST

 Under attack: Pink bollworms have destroyed over 50% of cotton crop in the State

Under attack: Pink bollworms have destroyed over 50% of cotton crop in the State

Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Friday demanded that the State government compensate cotton farmers whose crop has been damaged by a pink bollworm attack. Known for its cotton fields, the State is staring at unprecedented losses as nearly 50% of this year’s cotton crop is estimated to have been affected by pink bollworm.

Government bodies, committees and even Opposition parties have asked the government to initiate steps to bring the infestation under control, and failing to do so is likely to harm next year’s crop as well, say experts. They have also questioned the use of Bt cotton seed Bollgard II (BG II) from Monsanto, as it has failed to resist the pink bollworm attack.

On Friday, Mr. Pawar visited Yavatmal, which is among the districts worst affected by the pink bollworm attack, and met farmers who have lost entire crops to the pest. “The bollworm’s resistance has increased, and Bt seeds are of no use. Now is the time to change the seed,” he said. Mr. Pawar also sought action against government officers who failed to ‘standardise’ seeds. “The Revenue Department must make panchnamas of farms affected, and farmers should be compensated.”

Mr. Pawar, a former Union Agriculture Minister, said he has requested the Central Institute for Cotton research in Nagpur to hold a one-day seminar to discuss the problem. “People from the State and the Centre should come together to avoid similar problems,” he said.

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