ICAR & Bayer partner cotton farmers for effective whitefly management

New Delhi : Since 2015, whitefly has created havoc in cotton farms, significantly reducing yields and causing heavy losses to cotton farmers in Punjab and Haryana: two key cotton growing states in India. Bayer India’s Crop Science division undertook an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Project in Punjab and Haryana, to help cotton farmers effectively manage the dreaded whitefly menace.

The idea of implementing a window-based Integrated Pest Management Project to manage whitefly in Punjab and Haryana was proposed at the “Whitefly Management Symposium” organised by Crop Life India and ICAR on March 2, 2016 in New Delhi. Post the meeting; Bayer implemented a joint initiative for effective whitefly management under guidance from the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) at Sirsa, Haryana; the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) at Fatehabad, Haryana and officials from the Department of Agriculture, Punjab,

The initiative was implemented as a pilot during the 2016 cotton growing season in 5 villages in Bhatinda district of Punjab (Baghu, Mehta, Kotshamir, Jodhpur Romana & Jassi Pavwali) and 5 villages in Fatehabad district of Haryana, (Nehla, Baijalpur, Gorakhpur, Jandli Khurd and Leheriya).
Appreciating the joint initiative, ­­­­Dr. Jeet Singh Sandhu, Deputy Director General (Crop Science), ICAR said: “The collaborative efforts by the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), the State Agricultural University, State Department of Agriculture and Bayer have yielded desired results and helped project cotton farmers manage the whitefly menace in a timely manner.”

Nearly 100 project cotton growers in both states were guided on the selection of cotton hybrids, sowing time, precautions while buying, transporting, storing and using crop protection chemicals, application of balance fertilizers and irrigation requirements as recommended by officals of the State Agriculture Department. Besides this, cotton growers were also guided on scouting techniques and on methods of taking informed pest management decisions for whitefly-based on economic threshold level of the pest throughout the season.
Summing up the results of the joint initiative, Peter Mueller, Head of Crop Science in South Asia, said: “In both Punjab and Haryana, whitefly was effectively managed and project cotton farmers achieved a good average yield of seed cotton of over 1000 kg of seed cotton / acre. This is a remarkable yield improvement from the previous two years when cotton farmers obtained very low yields due to severe attack of whitefly.”
Cotton growers and government officials have appreciated the efforts of ICAR and Bayer to address the whitefly menace during the 2016 cotton season. They have also expressed their desire for the project to be extended beyond 2016, to cover other affected areas within the cotton producing belt. In addition, key government officials from the Department of Agriculture have reiterated their commitment to further support farmers in areas of soil and irrigation water testing post harvesting of wheat, which will help farmers take informed decisions on fertilizer management. The Integrated Pest Management project will continue in the same 5 villages of Punjab and Haryana till the end of 2018.