By Kavita Desai - Cogencis,

Tuesday, Dec 5

MUMBAI - Around 2.8 mln ha or about 67% of the total cotton acreage in Maharashtra may have so far been affected by pink bollworm attack, a senior official with the state agriculture input and quality control department said.

Major damage to the crop is likely in Yavatmal, Akola and Amravati districts of Vidarbha region, along with Jalna, Parbhani, Aurangabad, Nanded, Jalgaon and Beed in Marathwada.  The cotton fields in the regions faced widespread infestation despite the use of genetically modified bollworm-resistant BG-II seeds. However, the official added that "a survey of the area affected due to pest attack is still being carried out at the district level and is expected to be much higher than 2.8 mln ha".

Maharashtra, the largest producer of cotton after Gujarat, contributes around 25% of the country's total production. According to the first advance estimates, cotton acreage in seen at around 4.2 mln ha in 2017-18 (Oct-Sep), compared with 3.8 mln ha last year. The cotton output forecast stands at 9.5 mln bales (1 bale = 170 kg) in 2017-18, lower than 10.6 mln bales last year.

The extent of the losses could be higher as the insect has infested the plant at the flowering stage, rather than at the boll-formation stage, an official with quality control department in Beed district said. The state government has asked farmers who have incurred losses to claim compensation. So far, around 100,000 farmers have signed up. The fine print of the compensation scheme is yet to be worked out, the farm department official said.  End (Source: