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Farm services advisory claim to have identifies ‘Boll Rot’ disease in Maharashtra, Gujarat cotton crop

Maharashtra has around 43 lakh hectare under cotton — the highest reported in the past few years.

Cotton Guru, a cotton advisory services group for farmers claims to have identified a new disease in cotton called ‘Boll Rot’ along with a progressive farmer Amrut Deshmukh. The finding came through a farm survey conducted by the group in Maharashtra.

Boll Rot is a disease in which the cotton boll rots first and then the Pink Bollworm develops inside the boll and eats the fibre inside.

Between November 2017 and September 2018, a team from Cotton Guru had visited over 600 villages meeting over 50,000 farmers. We had shown the damaged plants to several research associations, scientists and officers from the agriculture department, said Manish Daga, founder of Cotton Guru.

Both the research institutes and agriculture officers told us that there has been no such history of this disease and therefore they cannot accept it and will have to continue research to arrive at a conclusion, he said. Nearly 5% of the cotton crop in Maharashtra has been affected by Pink Bollworm, he said. It remains to be seen how much of this is caused by Boll Rot, he added. A similar disease in cotton crop has been observed in the US and has been called Boll Rot as well but there has been no such history of this disease in India, he said.

The disease has been seen affecting cotton crop in Vidarbha, Arvi, Marathwada, Amravati, Wani and Kharanja, among other areas. The farm advisory intends to conduct more such farm survey to identify more such crop in the state. The question is if Cotton Boll rot is leading to Pink bollworm or Pink bollworm leads to Boll Rot, he said. A recent video sent by Gujarat’s highest yield taking farmer from Patan shows similar symptoms, he said, appealing to government authorities, research associations and textile industry to wake up to the serious situation and find solutions.

Farmers in Maharashtra have reported yield loss both due to moisture stress in the growing phase as well as heavy rains just before the picking stages. Maharashtra has around 43 lakh hectare under cotton — the highest reported in the past few years.

Meanwhile, a large part of the cotton growing region in Gujarat faces pink bollworm infestation, casting a shadow on the crop outlook. The improved prospects in Maharashtra and Telangana, are expected to help India retain its overall cotton output for the 2019-20 season at 354.5 lakh bales (each of 170 kg), according to Cotton Association of India (CAI). The cotton trade body has retained its crop estimate in its November forecast. “The crop estimate for Gujarat, the top domestic producer, has been reduced by 4 lakh bales on account of crop damage due to heavy rains and pink bollworm infestation. About 10% of the cotton farmers in the state have uprooted their cotton plants and wish to migrate to other competing crops,” Atul Ganatra, President, CAI stated recently.

According to CAI estimates, Gujarat’s cotton crop, earlier estimated at 100 lakh bales, has now been cut to 96 lakh bales. There is also a dip in the production estimated from North India, including Rajasthan and Punjab. On the other hand, the output in Maharashtra and Telangana has been raised higher by 3 lakh bales each, to 83 lakh bales and 51 lakh bales, respectively.

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Source: Financial Express