The sudden spell of heavy rains in cotton-growing regions of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana and Karnataka during the last 10 days has come as a boon to farmers. According to officials of the Nagpur-based Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), the rains at this time will lift the yield by an additional 10 %. Cotton prices are also likely to cross the R5,000 per quintal mark, they said.
“Rains during mid-September have come as a surprise. There have been rains all across the cotton-growing regions of Gujarat — Amreli, Bhavnagar, Rajkot — and this will definitely improve yield. In Maharashtra, there has been a good amount of rainfall during the past 15 days which is very much beneficial to the crop. Yields are likely to improve by 10%,” said KR Kranthi, director, CICR.
Significantly, Marathwada has been now reeling under unprecedented flood-like situation. Going by initial estimates, mroe than R500 crore worth crops have been damaged in the three districts of Latur, Beed and Osmanabad. These districts were under the grip of a drought over the last few years. Soyabean has suffered major losses in all the three districts. Cotton, tur and moong are the other crops which will face damage.
However, according to Kranthi, cotton crop requires moisture at this time which has happened because of the rain. Except for North India and Rajasthan, it has been raining in Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat and Karnataka, he said. But since the North is an irrigated region, the crop there will still benefit, he added.
Kranthi who visited the Northern region recently says the crop is good there as well. “Arrivals have already begun. However, prices of desi cotton are depressed, which I feel, has been done artificially,” he said. Prices will be in the range of R5,000 per quintal and are likely to remain so until arrivals increase, he said.
This year, the area under desi cotton has increased by about 8 lakh hectares to 17 lakh hectares, while that under Bt cotton, which is genetically engineered to produce toxins against American and pink bollworms, has declined by nearly 21 lakh hectares to about 85 lakh hectares. Much of the desi cotton area increase has happened in North India because of last year’s whitefly attack which devastated Punjab’s cotton crop. Bt genes do not kill whiteflies.
According to NP Hirani, chairman, Maharashtra State Cooperative Cotton Growers Federation, this time there has been less sowing in the country and the total production is likely to touch 340 lakh bales. Because of timely rains, there will be more production now, he said, adding that the cotton arrivals in the market may be delayed to the last week of October because of the moisture.