Over 600 acres of standing cotton crop has suddenly withered away in four villages in the Painganga river basin of Korpana tehsil in Maharashtra due to an unknown fungal infection, according to media reports.
Agriculture officers claimed that the prolonged dry spell and variation in heat has led to a fungal infection in the roots of the cotton plants, leading to complete destruction of crop in the affected area. The ‘Shetkari Sanghatna’ has demanded immediate compensation, waiver of loans and other measures to ensure that the affected farmers do not take extreme steps like suicide.
A team of the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) are scheduled to visit the plantations this week to inspect the damage. Shetkari Sanghatana leader Wamanrao Chatap claimed that the unknown disease destroyed BT cotton in more than 600 acres of farms belonging to around 150 farmers in Borgaon (Irai), Sonurli (Gadegaon) and Wirur (Gadegaon).
He said that BT cotton seeds were sown on time and the required rounds of fertilisers and pesticides were used by farmers as per schedule according to the prescribed method, but their hopes of getting a good yield has been shattered.
Around 80 farmers from Borgaon (Irai), who sowed cotton crop in around 200 acres, are the worst affected lot and they suffered 100 per cent destruction, while farmers from other villages suffered 50 per cent losses.
Chatap urged the state government to compensate these farmers by paying Rs 6,800 per acre, as per rules.