Owing to low demand and prices, dip in acreage and lesser yield this year, cotton growers are mulling to give up crop cultivation next year in the state.
The area under cotton crop is shrinking fast and the growers are now saying that it’s not a profitable venture anymore.
Presently, cotton is fetching price below the minimum support price (MSP) in the market. The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has fixed MSP of Rs 6,620 per quintal for the medium staple cotton and Rs 7,020 for the long staple cotton. However, the price in the market is presently remaining between Rs 4,700 and Rs 6,800. In September, the opening price of cotton was Rs 300-500 per quintal more than the MSP.
The cotton is mainly sown in Fazilka, Bathinda, Mansa and Muktsar districts. However, the pink bollworm attack on the crop, poor quality of produce and lesser demand in the international market has forced the cotton growers to explore other options from next year.
“Our village was known for the quality of cotton crop, but the situation is so bad this year that we have to store the cotton crop, which is already infested with pink bollworm and a small black insect, in a room at our house. We are not getting an adequate price for our produce thus don’t have any option other than storing it. The per acre yield of the crop has remained half of the last year and the price is also Rs 2,000 per quintal down from last year. Now, we have decided to quit sowing cotton from next year,” said Gurdeep Singh from Daula village in Gidderbaha subdivision.
Meanwhile, Ajay Wadhwa, chief spokesperson, Kisan Union (Sher-e-Punjab), said, “The feed prepared from cotton seeds is hardly finding buyers. The animals are not eating the feed, which is infested with pink bollworm and some other insects. Some animals have fallen ill as well.”
However, Dr Gurdit Singh Aulakh, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Muktsar, said, “I have not yet heard that any animal fell ill after taking feed prepared from cotton seeds.”
As per the figures available, the area under cotton crop this year was 1.75 lakh hectares in the state. Last year, this area was nearly 2.5 lakh hectares. In contrast, the area under cotton cultivation used to be nearly 7 lakh hectares in the 1990s.
Bhagwan Bansal, patron, Punjab Cotton Factories and Ginners Association, said, “The per acre average yield of cotton has remained three-five quintal this year, which was 10 quintal last year. The quality is also poor this time. The CCI purchases good quality cotton, which is scarcely available this year. Further, there is hardly any demand for our cotton in the international market, thus the prices are low. The spinning mills are not getting orders from abroad. The other hand, clothes made in China are coming here. The textile industry is the engine of the country’s GDP, but the situation is turning grim every year.”
An official of the Agriculture Department said the government provided a 33 per cent subsidy on cotton seeds this year and it may introduce some other scheme next year.