War on pink bollworm to save Bt Cotton

War on pink bollworm to save Bt Cotton
Highlights

An all-out multi-level campaign has been launched on a war-footing against the dreaded pink bollworm attack that has been causing havoc to Bt cotton crop across India.

Warangal: An all-out multi-level campaign has been launched on a war-footing against the dreaded pink bollworm attack that has been causing havoc to Bt cotton crop across India.

Over the years, pink bollworm (PBW) has developed resistance to Bt cotton and during the last cotton season alone, the pest caused a crop loss ranging from 20% to 25% across the states. Some farmers even lost the entire crop as it had to be uprooted due to severe damage.

This year, the loss could even go up, which could lead to major agrarian crisis, if timely checks are not implemented, experts have said. To overcome this problem, the Union government has recommended a unique RIB concept (Refugia In Bag) wherein 25 gram of non-Bt cotton seed is mixed with 450 gram of Bt cotton seed.

This new RIB system makes farmers plant non-Bt plants compulsorily as seeds are mixed inside bag. Such non-Bt plants can host PBW wild insects (which are not resistant to Bt) and prevent resistance buildup in PBW by mating with mutant insects (which have developed resistance) whose progeny again lose the resistance.

Earlier, farmers in general have ignored this process due to lack of awareness and fell victim to pink bollworm attack. During the current season, the National Seeds Association of India (NSAI) has taken up the issue on a war footing and revived the RIB concept.

“The field staff of various seed companies has been working proactively working with the farmers to impress upon them on the need to go for RIB and save their main crop,” said NSAI president P Prabhakar Rao, who is also the Chairman and Managing Director of Nuziveedu Seeds Limited.

Several seed and pesticide companies have also begun to distribute pheromone traps as part of their CSR projects. More than one lakh traps have already been pressed into action both by public and private sector establishments as a measure for awareness drive for early detection of PBW attack, NSAI said.

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