There is still some hope for cotton farmers to recover their investment even in the face of the attack of pink bollworm and the looming threat of other unknown pests surfacing to damage their crop in future, provided they are ready to incorporate changes in the pattern of cultivation, say agriculture scientists.
The largest commercial crop in Adilabad, Kumram Bheem Asifabad, Mancherial and Nirmal districts is cotton, with the commercial crop being cultivated in 6.7 lakh hectare. The crop also accounts for over 90 % of the about ?4,000 crore kharif loaning from banks as well as private moneylenders.
“Farmers should be open to taking up other crops which can be equally remunerative. The kharif cotton crop should be terminated by November and crops like redgram, bengal gram or other horticultural ones should be cultivated in rabi,” Coordinator of Adilabad District Agriculture Advisory and Technical Training Centre Sudhanshu Kasbe said. He proffered a solution to the vexing problem of cotton farmers suffering losses owing to various factors, most importantly pest attack.
The agriculture scientist asserted that terminating cotton crop in November will control pink bollworm which has currently emerged as the nemesis of cotton farmers. “By the time the crop comes for uprooting, the farmer would have harvested 5 to 6 quintals of cotton in every acre which should give him some income,” he explained.
“The uprooted crop needs to be destroyed and it could be shredded and mixed with the soil. This can convert it into organic matter which is beneficial for the soil,” he added.
Bengal gram, among others, can be an immediate alternative crop in rabi as it fetches ?5,000 per quintal, equal to the price of cotton. The investment is comparatively low and the yield ranges between 8 and 10 quintals per acre making it remunerative for farmers, he said.
Mr. Kasbe has done extensive research on the incidence of pink bollworm in the four districts. The incidence which damaged cotton in an estimated 25,000 hectares in Adilabad and some more extent in the Bhainsa-Mudhole area of Nirmal district occurred in heavy textured soils. “The incidence of pest attack is lower in KB Asifabad district where the soils are light textured. The damage to the crop is also equally low,” he pointed out.