LAHORE, Aug 1: With an exceptional delay in the monsoon showers, the cotton crop in Punjab has come under cotton leave curl virus (CLCV), which has increased by alarming seven per cent in the last one week.

Till a week ago, its spread was reported to around 11.34 per cent, which has now gone up to 18.1 per cent, ringing alarm bells in the official circles and among farmers. The major areas under attack are in districts of Khanewal, Pakpattan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Layyah and Muzaffaghar.

The agriculture department has already issued an advisory, suggesting curative measures for farmers who are now fearing a heavy loss.

“The trouble is that the department wants farmers to use balanced fertilisers,” says Afzal Maitla from Pakpattan. “The farmers, however, cannot afford Urea, leave alone adding other nutrients. The rising cost of production has taken much of such ‘luxuries’ out of majority of farmers’ reach. The farmers know that only vegetative growth would help them and plant survive, but they don’t have money,” he claimed.

Other measures include irrigation, says Azhar Hussain from Rahim Yar Khan. “Where would they (farmers) get water from? There are no rains. Farmers cannot run their tube-wells for two reasons: underground water is brackish and tube-wells are not an option for rising cost of diesel and absence of power. Diesel costs more than Rs100 per litter and electricity is simply not available in the rural areas. Where do the farmers go? They are simply helpless against the virus. Yes, they will do their best as far as manual management is concerned, but suggesting expensive measures would not help them,” he insisted.

“If the farmers lose a million bales, as they mostly do, to the CLCV, they and the economy would be suffering a direct loss of Rs26 billion at the current prices,” claims Akhtar Lalika of Vehari area. The government needs to realise the extent of damage and move accordingly on the issue. It must come up with some kind of package to ensure that farmers use right kind of fertiliser in right proportion. Otherwise, the entire agriculture cycle would suffer.

The cost of production of cotton has gone close to Rs50,000 per acre. Not many farmers can afford that kind of investment, especially when they are not sure of the return. This is a critical stage as the official advisory has rightly put, but the government also needs to realise seriousness of the issue instead of only aiming at the farmers and deflecting the responsibility.

It should chalk out a plan to save cotton, and lend farmers a helping hand. Issuing advisories to farmers does guide them but it is only of limited utility, especially if they cannot be acted upon (by farmers) for financial reasons,” he claimed and added: “The government better spare some money from its huge subsidy package and save the crop. It is only the beginning. However, it can quickly spin out of hand if urgent corrective measures are not taken.”

Opinion

The curse of irrelevance
24 Jul 2021

The curse of irrelevance

Fear, in essence, is a powerful de-motivator for those who believe their success lies in lazy public validation...
Good & bad Muslims
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Good & bad Muslims

It is essential to interrogate the wider epidemic of violence.
The Afghan stalemate
Updated 21 Jul 2021

The Afghan stalemate

The Taliban cannot think of ruling Afghanistan without international legitimacy.

Editorial

Cyberattack on rights
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Cyberattack on rights

A COLLABORATIVE investigation into a data leak of software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group has ...
24 Jul 2021

Sleeper cells

THERE was a time not too long ago when militant groups had unleashed a reign of terror in Pakistan, resulting in...
24 Jul 2021

Prisoners’ return

THE families of 62 Pakistani prisoners who had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia had reason to rejoice this Eid as...
India’s admission
Updated 24 Jul 2021

India’s admission

It was no secret that India had been manoeuvring behind the scenes to ensure that Pakistan remained on the grey list.
EU headscarf ban
Updated 23 Jul 2021

EU headscarf ban

Moves by the EU to curtail the religious freedoms of Muslims and others in the bloc need to be reviewed.
Disposal of offal
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Disposal of offal

The least people can do is to make an effort and dump entrails in designated areas.