The first monsoon showers that hit the semi-arid region of south Malwa on Thursday night brought respite for cotton farmers from the deadly whitefly but exposed the ill-preparedness of the civic authorities in the urban areas as several areas in Bathinda town were in knee-deep in water
The first monsoon showers that hit the semi-arid region of south Malwa on Thursday night brought respite for cotton farmers from the deadly whitefly but exposed the ill-preparedness of the civic authorities in the urban areas as several areas in Bathinda town were in knee-deep in water.
Low-lying areas, such as Power House Road and Sikri Bazaar, were waterlogged.
Since the city has no dedicated stormwater drainage network, sewage lines are used for flowing rainwater. Even as the rain lasted for about six hours, many low-lying areas on arterial roads got waterlogged.
Agriculture experts said the timely rains are beneficial for cotton and paddy crops, while kinnow orchardists who were facing an acute irrigation crisis this year, would also benefit.
State agriculture officials said due to the lack of rains, the cotton-growing belt was reeling under the threat of the whitefly attack after seven years.
Surveillance teams have been constituted in various districts for a constant watch on the whitely.
Muktsar chief agriculture officer Gurpreet Singh said teams inspected 94 sites on Thursday and 10 spots were found to have whitefly above the economic threshold level (ETL) of six or more adults per leaf early in the morning. However, pest infestation is under control and farmers have been advised to use pesticides.
“After two breaches in Sirhind Feeder this year, fields were deprived of irrigation support. Water scarcity caused stunted growth of cotton plants but the timely rains have revived hopes for the cotton crop,” he said.
Mansa CAO Manjit Singh said the prolonged dry weather was to blame for the threat of whitefly infestation.
“The pest attack is directly related to dryness, and rain weakens it. Rain will disturb the whiteflies that have settled on the cotton crops and as a result, flies will start falling down on the soil which will offer relief to the crop,” he said.
Arvind Setia, a progressive farmer from Abohar in Fazilka, said rainfall has revived hopes of kinnow orchardists as trees were drying up in the absence of a canal irrigation system.
“Groundwater in Abohar region is unfit for irrigation and canal water in the sole lifeline. But as the Sirhind Feeder canal breached twice this year, kinnow production was hit. The showers will help the surviving trees from the prolonged dry spell,” said Setia.