Saturday September 30, 2023

Punjab boosts water supply in south to save cotton from pest attack

By Our Correspondent
September 20, 2023

LAHORE: The Punjab government has taken a slew of measures to improve cotton production in the province, particularly for enhancing water availability in the south, where a pest attack has devastated the crop due to hot and dry weather.

The south Punjab region provides ideal conditions for the invasion of whitefly, a sucking insect that damages the cotton plant and reduces its yield. Wet conditions could have been the only remedy against the infestation, but rain in the last couple of days gave a miss to the southern parts of the province.

The meteorological office recorded rainfall in central and upper Punjab as well as lower and central Sindh, but no relief for the farmers of south Punjab. It predicted dry weather for the region on Wednesday, the epicenter of the ongoing pest attack.

During the past 24-hours, rain-wind/thundershower occurred in Punjab, Lower Sindh, upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir. Dry weather prevailed in other parts of the country. As per recorded rainfall, Lahore received up to 193mm, Khanewal 24, Narowal 17, Bahawalnagar 11, Hafizabad 06, Faisalabad 04, Gujranwala, Okara, Bahawalpur, Sahiwal, Bahawalpur 01, in Sindh, Mirpurkhas got 33mm, Badin 30, Tharparkar 34, Mithi 16 and Chhor 03. For Wednesday, the Met office predicted dry weather for South Punjab, the epicenter of ongoing pest attack. As per forecast, widespread rain-wind/thundershower is expected in Sindh, while at few places in Eastern Punjab, North/East Balochistan, Upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir. Heavy falls are also expected at isolated places in Lower Sindh during the period.

Keeping in view dry and hot condition, Punjab Agriculture Department took steps on a priority basis to supply water to the tail end of the farmers in the cotton areas by next month to get full production of the cotton crop.

Provincial Secretary Agriculture, Iftikhar Ali Sahoo while chairing a review meeting regarding the current situation of cotton in South Punjab said that with the help of drones and helicopters, a total of 57,000 acres in Dera Ghazi Khan Division and 8 thousand acres with the help of power sprayers were sprayed with modern chemistry pesticides which has significantly reduced the attack of whitefly. Special teams of the Agriculture Departmenthave been accompanying the farmers during this time.

The review meeting was participated by Director General Agriculture (Extension) Dr. Ishtiaq Hasan, Director General Agriculture (Pest Warning) Punjab Rana Faqir Hussain, Director General Agriculture, Crop Reporting Dr. Abdul Qayyum and Director Agricultural Information, Punjab Rai Mudassar Abbas were present in the meeting while Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners of Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, Irrigation Department officers and Divisional Directors of Agriculture Extension participated through video link. Secretary Agriculture was briefed that cotton crop situation is satisfactory and harvesting of spring crop is in progress while harvesting of seasonal crop has also been started.

Guidance on cotton crop irrigation, nutrition and pest management is being provided to farmers during this month. So far this year, the production of cotton in South Punjab has been double as compare to last year. The meeting was told that cotton market is stable and farmers are getting better rates.

Secretary Agriculture, Punjab urged the district administration officers to solve the issues related to cotton crop on daily basis so that the cotton production target can be achieved. He clarified that higher per acre production of cotton is the guarantee of farmers' prosperity and stability in the country's economy. Therefore, for higher production of cotton per acre, the senior officers of the district administration and all the divisional directors will lead this campaign as national agenda by the end of next month and perform with passion.