Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, Sports and Youth Welfare, Government of Maharashtra, Sunil Chatrapal Kedar flagged off PBW knowledge campaign during the farmers’ mela held at APMC yard, Kalmeshwar taluka of Maharashtra recently. More than 1000 cotton farmers participated in the campaign as part of a multi-stakeholder “Project Bandhan: A Knot of PBW Protection” implemented by South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC), Jodhpur and Agrovision Foundation, Nagpur and supported by PI Foundation and Rasi Seeds. The PBW knowledge campaign float carries digital PBW extension system, posters, leaflets and training materials and would travel across key cotton-growing districts of Vidarbha to share critical knowledge with smallholders to protect the cotton from devastating pink bollworm (PBW).
The Project Bandhan is carrying out a field experiment laid out over 300 acres in five clusters of cotton fields in Kharif 2021 at Waroda and Adasa villages of Kalmeshwar taluka and Methpanjara of Katol taluka, Nagpur district of Maharashtra. A team of cotton entomologists oversee the progress of PBKnot mating disruption technology under the technical supervision of ICAR-Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur.
While appreciating PBW mating-disruption project being implemented in his constituency, the minister called on the agri-institutions to vigorously engage in the extension of knowledge, on and off-farm training and awareness of cotton technologies. “The infestation of PBW in 2017-18 is fresh in our memory and we must be prepared to deal with imminent threat of PBW in this season and the subsequent cotton seasons”, said the minister.
He emphasised that agriculture and smallholder farmers are the bedrock of economic growth and rural development of India. He directed key stakeholders including officials and extension system to increase reach to smallholders as “well-to-do” farmers are already ahead in technology adoption curve.
Dr CD Mayee, President, South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) alerted farmers to remain vigilant about pink bollworm and follow integrated pest management (IPM) based protocol for management of the pest. He advised farmers to closely monitor crop, undertake application of neem-based biopesticides and microbial and avoid unnecessary spraying of pesticides.
“The large-scale experiment of the PBKnot application carried out under Project Bandhan is to gather realistic and multivariant field data of the mating disruption technology as Bt-cotton has become a target of mysterious pest pink bollworm. In the absence of approval of new Bt based traits in cotton, the smallholder farmers are facing enormous challenges of abiotic and biotic stresses in the crucial time of flowering, boll formation upto boll maturity and hence vulnerable to crop and income losses.”, said Bhagirath Choudhary, Director, South Asia Biotechnology Centre.
Dr YG Prasad, Director, ICAR-Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) shared the preparedness of CICR in managing pink bollworm such as development of pheromone lure for monitoring and mass trapping, issuing technical advisory and weekly alerting farmers by voice messaging and providing technical support to the PBW mating disruption project.
Prashant Hegde, CEO (Agri-Business), PI Industries talked about the importance of PBKnot mating disruption technology as a complementary tool to manage PBW in cotton. He informed that the PBKnot technology has been thoroughly evaluated in different states and has obtained necessary approval from the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) of the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare of Government of India.
While Dr Rajinder Gade, Director (Extension), Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (DrPDKV), Akola highlighted activities on PBW at different Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs); Dr. D B Undirwade, cotton entomologist at DrPDKV explained the life cycle, damage symptoms and control measures of pink bollworm. He also alerted farmers to remain vigilant as weather is becoming favourable post-rainfall for emergence of PBW pupae to adults for mating and egg-laying.
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