Punjab’s Cotton producing Belt is under threat from Whitefly attack as Half of the Cotton Crop in Hotspot areas stands damaged.

Although The Punjab Agriculture Department’s pest management teams have initiated cluster spraying, the move is considered delayed as analyst estimate that damage has been done. More specifically, Central Punjab has been dealt a great blow from White Fly Attack

According to a Provincial department spokesperson, the teams have deployed drones and high-pressure spray machines to treat both the affected areas and their surroundings. This approach is necessary because whiteflies tend to seek refuge in nearby fields to evade the effects of pesticides.

Agriculture Secretary along with senior officials from the extension and pest management divisions, were personally present in the cotton belt on Wednesday to oversee the pest control operation.

Analysts have observed that the whitefly infestation in hotspot areas has exceeded the economic threshold. He noted that around 100 whitefly bugs per leaf are being observed, and no pesticide appears to be capable of rescuing the affected plants. Dr. Ahmed believes that more than 50 percent of the crop has suffered damage, casting doubt on Punjab’s ability to reach its target of 8.3 million bales this year.

The whitefly outbreak is attributed to high temperatures and insufficient watering, particularly in fields affected by salinity.

Owing to the elevated temperatures, whitefly larvae matured earlier than expected, making it challenging to apply pesticides in a timely manner.

However, growers argue that the higher costs of pesticides and exorbitant power tariffs hindered their ability to conduct timely pest control measures and operate tube-wells to lower land temperatures, which could deter pest attacks.

Meanwhile, ginning factories have reported a 50 percent reduction in cotton arrivals and a 15 percent decrease in yield.

Farmers have expressed dissatisfaction with the measures taken by the agriculture and revenue departments to prevent whitefly infestations. They contend that the problem is not a lack of canal water or a hot and humid environment but rather subpar seeds and counterfeit pesticides that have contributed to the growth and onslaught of whiteflies.

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