Karnataka

Sanitising Bt cotton fields begins in Raichur district

Infested Bt cotton stalks being destroyed at a field in Nelahal village in Raichur district on Tuesday. Photo: Santosh Sagar

Infested Bt cotton stalks being destroyed at a field in Nelahal village in Raichur district on Tuesday. Photo: Santosh Sagar  

To check the spread of the pink bollworm pest that destroyed over 80 per cent of standing crop of Bt cotton on around 2.5 lakh acres in Raichur district, the Department of Agriculture has now begun sanitising the cotton fields. An important task in this campaign is burning the Bt cotton residues in the fields so as to ensure that the eggs and larvae of the pest are destroyed before the next kharif season.

As per the information provided by the department, the cotton growers had already destroyed infected cotton stalks on their own. To ensure the destruction of remaining cotton plant, department officials are now visiting villages and encouraging farmers to set the residual stalks.

“Destroying cotton stalks and tilling the fields deep to expose the soil to sun are important measures to destroy eggs and larvae of pink bollworm. These precautions will reduce the pest population ahead of the next season,” N. Saraswathi, Joint Director of Agriculture (in-charge) told The Hindu. She was overseeing destruction of cotton stalks at a cotton field outside Nelahal village in Raichur taluk on Tuesday.

The officials, in association with the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), are also holding small public meetings with farmers in the fields and provide tips on pest management.

“In the first phase, we had taken up sanitisation of cotton ginning mills. The department officials, along with agricultural scientists from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, visited each cotton ginning mill and ensured that the residues, including leftover cotton seeds, are properly destroyed,” said R.G. Sandeep, Assistant Director of Agriculture, Raichur.

In Raichur, cotton was cultivated over 2.5 lakh acres in the last kharif season, of which 95 per cent was Bt variety. About 80 per cent of the Bt cotton crop was destroyed by pink bollworm pest attack. Farmers have been demanding government to hold the seed producers responsible and compel them pay compensation as their pest-resistant claim turned out be a hoax. The government has taken no stringent action against the seed producers except filing a petition against Kaveri Seeds Pvt. Ltd., a leading supplier of Bt cotton seeds. KRRS State president Chamarasa Malipatil had recently called upon farmers to cultivate alternative crops, such as red gram, instead of Bt cotton.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 9:20:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sanitising-bt-cotton-fields-begins-in-raichur-district/article8611378.ece

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