Virus eats up 27,000 acres of cotton

Post Source: DAWN Correspondent
Monday, 14 Sep, 2009

SAHIWAL: The cotton leaf curl virus has damaged 27,000 acres of cultivated cotton but the agriculture authorities are still optimistic that it will not affect the overall production target in the district.

The crop has been cultivated over 221,000 acres in Sahiwal for 2009 – 31,000 acres more than the previous year’s cultivation target.

A survey by this correspondent revealed that many growers had sown the crop (over around 100,000 acres) by using early-sowing techniques. The average cotton yield for early sowing area is around 30-35 maunds per acre but the average in late sowing areas is between 18-20 maunds.

‘The CLCV has damaged 27,000-acre cotton,’ said District Agriculture Officer Muhammad Farooq who, however, claimed that the overall cotton production target would be 32.3 per cent more than the previous year’s target in Sahiwal.

He said the cotton cultivation area had been increased this year and early sowing had been done on around 50 per cent area by the growers; these two factors would help exceed the target. More and more growers had turned to cotton cultivation this year because of reduction in maize support price in the open market last year, he added.

According to cotton ginning report, some 140,835 cotton bales have been secured in the district so far. Mr Farooq said the virus attack had mostly damaged cotton at Kameer and Oukanwala Bangla fields. ‘Increase in mercury during the late sowing period was considered a major reason for the cotton leaf curl virus attack,’ he said.
BT cotton seed dealers warned

Meanwhile, in Muzaffargarh the agriculture department has warned to take strict action against dealers of BT cotton seeds which attract virus attack, district officer (DO) agriculture Jamshed Sindhu has said.

He said that 150,000 acres of cotton crop had been destroyed by the virus out of total of 600,000 acres where 70 per cent BT cotton seeds disapproved by the cotton research departments were sown.

He said that over 50 varieties of BT cotton seeds were in the market and the provincial government had directed the department to sell approved seeds first.

He said he could not check the market during the current season but his teams would check and arrest dealers involved in the sale of uncertified seeds next year.

Sources said it was found in the first phase of an agriculture department’s survey that cotton crop cultivated over 125,000 acres had been affected by the virus, 145,000 acres in the second phase and 150,000 acres in the third phase.

On the other hand, the agriculture department has no pesticides for the virus.

Nawaz Qalandrani, a farmer, told Dawn that seeds were brought by the dealers from Vehari, Multan and Khanewal districts which had also been affected by the virus.

He said that he also purchased `high-yielding’ BT cotton seeds of 702, 555, 196, 803 varieties but ended up in attracting a massive virus attack.

Asghar Ali, from Karam Dad Qureshi, said that his crop was also affected. He said that he was reluctant to cultivate BT cotton initially. He said those who cultivated 786, 496, 111 varieties were very happy because their crop was in good condition.

Agriculture DDO Mohammad Iqbal Niazi said that Kot Addu tehsil was the worst-hit area because of TP Link Canal, Taunsa Barrage, Muzaffargarh Canal which had caused water logging in the area.

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