Pesticide lobby all the way
SUKHMANDER SINGH committed suicide on October 4 in Punjab's Behmandiwan village after his 1.8 hectares of cotton crop was completely destroyed by the whitefly pest. He was the third member of his family to commit suicide in the past 18 years because of pest attacks. Papa was under depression after getting a total yield of just 20 kg this year. He has left behind a 2.5 lakh debt for us, says Singh's 16-year-old daughter Rimpy.
This year, whitefly pests have destroyed almost 75 per cent of cotton crops in Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana. This is despite the fact, that the farmers in these states spend heavily on pesticides.
Experts say the state government has been selling pesticides to farmers even when studies by the Central Cotton Research Institute, Nagpur (CCRI) in 2002 confirmed that the whitefly has become immune to pesticides.
In late September, CRRI issued a notice to farmers through the local media asking them not to use Fipronil-based pesticides because they promote the breeding of whitefly. The Pesticides Manufacture Association of India immediately slapped a legal notice on them. It is their agenda to intimidate us (scientists) but we responded with proof. Let us see what happens, says K R Kranti, director, CCRI.
The other point that is emerged is that spurious pesticides are being sold rampantly in the market. A 2013 report by industry body Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says that 40 per cent of pesticides sold in 2012 were spurious that not only failed to kill pest but also damaged crops.
A senior CCRI official says that the Punjab government bought 92,000 litres of Oberon insecticide this year for its 465,000 hectares of cotton crop. The insecticide is normally only sold through the state government and almost all farmers use it, said the official. He added that ideally one litre should be sprayed per hectare of land. insecticides to meet the demand.
Sukhmander Singh's family