Chandigarh, July 24

            With the state witnessing a whopping increase in cotton production expected during Kharif 2017, Punjab Chief Minister on Monday ordered the agriculture department to launch an aggressive campaign to prevent damage to the crop by whiteflies.

            On the directives of the chief minister, the department has deployed 500 scouts and 50 field supervisors to conduct a survey twice a week in each cotton growing village to assess the threat level due to whiteflies.

            A state-wide campaign has been launched to combat the whitefly threat and the inter-state consultative and monitoring committee, set up under the chairmanship of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) vice chancellor, is keeping close tabs on the situation. Scientists from Haryana and Rajasthan are the members of the committee, which has so far held four meetings, an official spokesperson disclosed.

            Pointing out that the area under cotton crop this year had increased to 3.82 lakh hec from 2.85 lakh hec. during Kharif 2016, the spokesperson said the scouts and field supervisors had been deployed for seven months in the state’s 1000 cotton growing villages. The scouts have been allotted two villages each, with six research fellows also appointed to support PAU in the exercise.

            Besides launching a weed control campaign in February, the agriculture department had also constituted district and block level pest surveillance teams to conduct weekly surveys. PAU had also initiated an awareness campaign through distribution of specially prepared literature to the farmers. In addition, 5 training camps at village level, 5 at block level and 2 camps at district level are being organized during the entire cotton season.

            About 3037 cotton demonstrations (10 hec. each) are being conducted to demonstrate the latest technology to the farmers to help them combat the whitefly menace.

            A total of Rs. 624.70 crore has been allocated for the various schemes launched under the cotton project to ensure protection of the crop from whitefly and other pests.

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