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Play safe, CM tells cotton farmers

Mansa : Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today inspected whitefly-infested cotton crop in Mansa district. The CM and PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar interacted with farmers and took stock of the situation in the worst-affected areas — Khiala, Jhunir and Mansa. He advised farmers to buy only certified seed varieties and PAU-recommended pesticides.
“Some farmers bought cheap, unbranded cotton seeds from Gujarat. They suffered crop losses,” he said. “I have asked the Agriculture Department to keep tabs on the supply of seeds from neighbouring states as these could be spurious,” said Capt Amarinder, promising a crackdown on the suppliers of spurious pesticides and seeds.
The CM said he had convened a meeting of agriculture experts and officials in Chandigarh on Wednesday to work out a strategy to curb the pest attack.
Talking to The Tribune at Khiala and Jhunir, he said, “We are pinning our hopes on rain. The weatherman has predicted showers within a week. If it rains, the pest larvae will get washed away. I have directed the Agriculture Department to depute officials at the village level so that they could guide farmers on the spray of pesticides.”
Those who accompanied the CM included his Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar, media adviser Raveen Thukral and senior officials of the Agriculture Department and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana. Capt Amarinder made an unscheduled stop at Nangal Khurd village, where he was told by PAU officials that the whitefly infestation was less severe compared to last year. “Less than 1 per cent of the total crop sown has got infested in Mansa. It is 1.3 per cent in Bathinda and 2 per cent in Muktsar,” the CM said, adding that Fazilka, Moga and Faridkot districts had reported negligible impact so far.
Suresh Kumar said there had been a 55 per cent increase in the area under cotton cultivation in the state, up from 2.5 lakh hectares last year to 3.82 lakh this time.

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