Chandigarh, September 8

Taking swift cognizance of the Sugarcane crop infected by Red Rot fungus in some parts of the state, the Cooperation Minister S. Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Wednesday asked the Deputy Commissioners of Gurdaspur and Jalandhar to immediate conduct the survey to assess the damage likely to be caused thereof and suggest remedial measures to prevent its further spread.

Randhawa also asked the Cooperation Department to prepare a compressive report for the perusal of the Chief Minister who also holds the portfolio of Agriculture, to work out an effective action plan through the participation of the Departments of Cooperation, Agriculture and Horticulture, Cane Commissioner in close coordination with PAU, Ludhiana, and Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Regional Centre, Karnal.

Chairing a high-level meeting to review the current situation that emerged after the outbreak of this disease the Cooperation Minister directed the DCs to work in tandem with PAU, Cane Commissioner, besides the departments of Agriculture and Horticulture to find out ways and means to combat the disease on top priority so as to save the Sugarcane crop at this critical juncture when the crushing season is likely to begin from the month of November as well as curtail further spread of this disease in coming years. Taking part in deliberations, S Randhawa emphasized the need to intensify the research for exploring the factors which led to sudden attack by fungus on Sugarcane variety of Co 0238.

The Cooperation Minister appealed to the cane growers not to be panic in wake of the disease rather he asked the authorities to identify the hotspot areas to effectively tackle the disease, besides, create awareness amongst them through extension services to provide meaningful information about its symptoms and management.

Meanwhile, Dr. SK Pandey, Principal Scientist, and Head Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Regional Centre, Karnal who joined the deliberations through video conferencing informed the meeting that this disease had already affected the sugarcane crop in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana in the past due to the problem of waterlogging. He however said that intensive research in this regard revealed that Co 0238 variety of sugarcane was mainly prone to this fungus and the farmers in these states who had suffered substantial losses were told not to grow this variety in the future.

The Registrar Cooperative Societies Mr. Vikas Garg said that Sugarfed was already making concerted efforts to ensure quality production of Sugarcane so as to enhance its recovery and therefore 20 lakh single bud saplings of high-quality disease-free were ready for distribution for cane growers for current planting during the autumn season (month of September and October).

On the occasion, Dr. Gulzar Singh Sanghera, Principal Sugarcane Breeder, PAU, Regional Research Station, Kapurthala during his detailed presentation outlined the main causes of disease, its outbreak in Co 0238 variety, and its remedial strategies.

On finding out about the Red Rot Fungus last week in the C.O.-238 variety of Sugarcane in the command area of Sugar Mills at Mukerian and Kiri Afgana, the officers of the Cooperative Sugar Mills were directed to contact the scientists of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana and Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Regional Centre Karnal and conduct field investigations. Today’s meeting has been convened keeping in mind the above-said circumstances.

prominent among others who were present in the meeting included Assistant Cane Commissioner VK Mehta, Additional Registrar Cooperative Societies Amarjit, General Manager, Sugarfed, Kanwaljit Singh Toor, and General Managers of all 9 working Cooperative Sugar Mills of the State.