IPM tech an opportunity to shift to bio-control regime for profitable cotton

MULTAN   -  Secretary Agriculture South Pun­jab Saqib Ali Ateel said on Friday that the Integrated Pest Manage­ment (IPM) technology was a golden opportunity for cotton farmers to adapt to its principles and apply this cost-effective strat­egy in cotton fields for higher production with efficient pest management to maximize profits.

He expressed these views in a meeting with Vice Chancellor Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Uni­versity of Agriculture (MNSUA) Prof. Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad Rajwana here Friday, a day after the third survey report of IPM for the year 2023 was unveiled carrying find­ings from faculty members of seven south Punjab universities. VC MNSUA Dr Ishtiaq Rajwana presented the book detailing re­port of third IPM survey to the secretary. The report has made it clear that cotton farmers would have to shift to IPM technology encompassing an efficient and wise approach to deal with ene­my pests if they want to enhance cotton profitability, Ateel said.

A committee comprising fac­ulty members from four univer­sities was formed including Mu­hammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture Multan, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Isla­mia University Bahawalpur and Ghazi University Dera Ghazi Khan to study impact of IPM technology on cotton crop from the year 2021 to 2023. Moreover, faculty members from Khawaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology Ra­him Yar Khan, University of Sar­godha and University of Layyah also finalized their own com­prehensive report on the basis of survey of IPM demonstration plots and non-IPM fields. Accord­ing to their findings, average per acre production of cotton from IPM plots was 34.22 maunds in 2021, 31.41 maunds per acre in 2022 and 38.89 maunds per acre in 2023. The report showed the production increased with the flawless implementation of IPM model. Saqib Ali Ateel said cotton was a cash crop for many coun­ties including Pakistan with over 250 million people earning their livelihood in the world of cotton. South Punjab agriculture depart­ment had introduced a revolu­tionary IPM program in 2021 and developed demonstration plots in south Punjab after cli­mate change had started impact­ing cotton production negatively due to unexpected rains that trig­gered higher pest infestation and extreme temperatures. In 2023, 292 IPM demonstration plots were developed across Punjab, mainly in six divisions including Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Faisalabad, Multan, Sargodha and Sahiwal. Over 80 per cent of farmers who joined the program avoided pesticides application during first 60 days of crop. 

However, the percentage of farmers engaged with non-IPM plots who followed the guideline was only 10-14 percent particu­larly in Faisalabad and Sahiwal which exposed their cotton fields to Jassid attack while all the dan­gerous pests like white fly, Aphid and Thrips against whom the pesticides were sprayed were present in almost all the divi­sions. Saqib said, time has come farmers should shun the practice of blind application of chemi­cal pesticides on cotton in a bid to control pests but in turn all they got was the enemy pest liv­ing and that too with resistance against the pesticides. This wast­age of resources should stop. Not only it kills crop friendly pests but also develop resistance among enemy pests against the pesticides. Under IPM model, farmers in Sahiwal, Faisalabad and Sargodha reduced pesticides application by 17 to 41 per cent, reducing their cost by 30 to 60 percent compared to non-IPM farmers. Department was taking steps to ensure easy availabil­ity of yellow sticky cards, phero­mone traps, PB Ropes, biopes­ticides and biocards for large scale enforcement of IPM tech­nology across the Punjab cotton landscape and efforts were also underway to build and enhance capacity of farmers through training and guidance on imple­menting IPM model, Saqib said.

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