With sowing of cotton beginning on a strong note in key growing regions including Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and some parts of Karnataka, the sale of cotton seeds has picked up. According to the National Seeds Association of India ( NSAI), cotton seed sales are likely to cross 5.5 to 6.5 lakh packs ( each of 450 gms) this season. According to Kalyan Goswami, executive director, NSAI, over 6 crore to 6.5 crore packs of seeds are available with companies and one can safely say there has been a rise of around 10 lakh packs this season.
The indigenous verities of seeds have not picked up as much because of availability issues and therefore majority of the farmers are still opting for BT Cotton, he said. Moreover, the previous season has been good for farmers and enthused by the high prices, farmers are expected to bring a larger area under crop this season. Even if there is a sharp increase in the area under cotton in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, the overall increase in the acreage will be around 10-12% over last year, Goswami said. Seed sales in 2017 are estimated to cross 5.5 crore packs, which was 4.6 crore in 2016. Seed sales stood at 5.12 crore in 2015 and at 4.1 crore packets in 2014.
Goswami pointed out that there has not been much impact of pink bollworm in Gujarat or Karnataka and therefore good growth is expected in acreage this season. Pink bollworm has been a major problem in the main cotton growing regions of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Moreover, seed prices remain the same at Rs 800 per pack and there have been no changes so far, he said.
MG Shembekar, vice president of the association, said that during a normal season, around 4.5 crore packs are needed and around 1.5 crore to 1.6 crore packs are required in Maharashtra. However, this time there could be a 10-15% rise in acrease which means that more than 4.5 crore packs would be required for sowing across the country and 1.6 to 1.65 crore packs may be required for Maharashtra, he said.
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As per the latest estimates by the agriculture ministry, cotton output has been pegged for the 2016-17 season at 325 lakh bales of 170 kg each over previous year’s 300 lakh bales. Predictions of a good monsoon by the India Meterological Department (IMD) as well as good prices have buoyed hopes of farmers for a good crop for the season of 2017-18. In northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, cotton sowing began on a brisk note and by May 15 60-70% of the cotton sowing has been completed, according to the Central Institute of Cotton Research, Nagpur.
“Initial indications are that during the current season the cotton area sown would be around 6 lakh hectares in Haryana (asagainst 4.98 lakh hectares during 2016-17) and 4 lakh hectare in Punjab (as against 2.56 lakh hectares in 2016-17),” he said.