Cotton growers in shatters as gray moth wreaks havoc

Cotton growers in shatters as gray moth wreaks havoc
Highlights

Cotton farmers in the district are on the verge of a breakdown as their crops have been massively destroyed by the pink bollworm, leading to severe drop in the yield.

Adilabad: Cotton farmers in the district are on the verge of a breakdown as their crops have been massively destroyed by the pink bollworm, leading to severe drop in the yield. Though the distressed farmers have been appealing to the government to come to their rescue as they they have no alternative except committing suicide, the officials do not seem to be in a mood to respond positively.

Farmers borrowed money and raised cotton crop in large scale in the district. With the failure of the crop because of the bollworm, casual workers were thrown out of work. Last year, when the crop prospects were high, the agricultural workers got 90 days of work. This year, finding work in cotton fields in plucking cotton for at least 30 days is a distant dream for them.

A model farmer, Lakshman of Ponnari village of Tamsi mandal, raised cotton in seven acres. Because of heavy rains this year, the pink bollworm attacked the crop. Cotton plants do not flower if attacked by the pest. Moreover, the leaves become dry. The crop yield came down to four or five quintals an acre as against 12 to 15 quintals harvested last year.

A disturbed Lakshman said he had never seen such a low yield in his agricultural career. Farm workers were also employed, besides him and his wife and son working in the field. Even recovering investments made seems to be impossible, let alone repaying the borrowed amount for cultivation.

He demanded that the State government pay bonus of Rs 1,000 per quintal of the crop harvested on the lines of Gujarat and Maharashtra. A tenant farmer in the village, Ashok, raised cotton in 10 acres and paid Rs 1.25 lakh towards lease. In the wake of steep fall in the yield, he now is doubtful of recovering the lease amount.

Earlier, he used to pluck cotton thrice during the season. However, this time around plucking cotton and pulling out the plant will be simultaneous. He is appealing to the government to come to their rescue. Another farmer, Tirupati, borrowed Rs 1 lakh and raised cotton crop in 10 acres. He is racking his brain over how to repay the loan in the wake of the dwindling crop yield.

The farmers are keen on replacing cotton crop with wheat and chickpea crops and want the State government to supply them with seeds of two crops. The pink bollworm destroyed crops in Tamsi, Talamadugu, Vankidi, Indravelli, Kerameri and Kagaznagar. In Nirmal district, the pest was spotted in Kubeer, Tanur and Kuntala mandals.

Earlier, casual workers used to earn Rs 500 for plucking a quintal of cotton. A casual worker, Lakshmi, points out that by working hard all through the day for the cotton crop they would be able to pluck only 40 kg because of the pest killing the plants. The farmers have been appealing to the government for steps to wriggle thm out of the current situation.

By T Anjaiah

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