MUZAFFARGARH: Recent heavy rains have damaged the cotton crop in Muzaffargarh and Layyah districts as the rainwater has been standing in the fields for the last three days.

The intermittent rain lashed Muzaffargarh and other districts of south Punjab during the last three days, causing heavy losses to the cotton farmers. The Met Office has predicted more rain in the coming days.

Cotton has been cultivated on more than 300,000 acres of land this year. There was a shortage of canal water as the only 1,000 to 1,200 cusec canal water was released for Muzaffargarh at the start of the season when cotton crop was sowed.

The farmers had to use peter engines for irrigating the crops, spending huge amounts of money on fuel.

The affected farmers demanded the government declare an emergency and announce a special relief package for them. They bemoaned that the cotton yield was excellent this season and its rate was also very attractive but the rain damaged it.

Malik Khalid, a local farmer leader, says the rate of lint (Phutti) was more than Rs12,000 per maund and they were very happy but rain hit the crop and destroyed it. Due to the rainwater constantly standing in crops, the plants colour had changed to yellow, he added.

On the other hand, the cotton research officials have asked the cotton farmers to remove water from the fields and spray the crops with pesticides.

The Punjab Department of Agriculture has issued an advisory for the farmers to protect crops from the monsoon rains.

A spokesman for the department said the crops of sugarcane, rice and fodder could tolerate excess water and excess rainwater from cotton and vegetable crops should be transferred to them, any empty field or a trench.

He said the cotton crop was very sensitive to water and if rainwater remained standing in it for 48 hours, its plants would start dying.

After the rain, growth regulators, if needed, could also be sprayed on the cotton plants with the advice of the staff of the agriculture department, the official says, advising the farmers to keep an eye on the weather forecast on radio and TV to plan their irrigation accordingly.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2022

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