Cotton Curse: Damage by Pink Bollworm to BT Cotton Worst in Two Decades

Farmers say damage by pink bollworm worse than American bollworm for which the Bt Cotton hybrid was created

October 20, 2023 | Source: Down to Earth | by Himanshu Nitnaware

The pink bollworm (PBW) pest has decimated Bt Cotton crops in the northern cotton zone of Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab this year. Many farmers have reported being unable to complete even one harvest.

Farmers across the belt told Down To Earth (DTE) that at least 80 to 90 per cent of their crop was damaged by the infestation of PBW (Pectinophora gossypiella), also known as Saunders. This is the pest’s most severe damage in the last two decades.

Krishan Lal (55) of 11 TKW village in the Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, should have been busy harvesting cotton and transporting it to market. But the disappointed farmer is now stressed and clearing his 18.74 acres of cotton fields.

“I requested labourers to pick up the harvest a couple of times, but the yield is so low that they refused to pluck the damaged cotton. Such menial work is time-consuming and pays little,” he told DTE.

Lal spent Rs 2.5 lakh cultivating cotton over the last six months and has now lost it all. The story is similar for all cotton farmers in the three states who have suffered heavy losses due to the infestation.