Cotton farming has seen an increase this year as the data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare shows that in 2016, 12.25 lakh hectares (lh) of land was used for cotton, whereas this year the land use is 16.67 (lh), reported the Indian Express. The dip in the cultivation of pulses is evident too from 2016’s 3.63 lh to 2.22 lh this year. The huge margin in the production of these different crops was attributed to the state agencies’ response in buying them from the farmers, who require immediate compensation for picking the cotton and using pesticides. Raosaheb Vittalrao Gavhane, a farmer from Hiswan Khurd in Jalna taluka told the Indian Express, “I did not even have to go to the mandi [to sell the cotton, as in the case of tur or pigeon pea]. The traders themselves came to buy the kapas (raw un-ginned cotton) straight from my fields at Rs 5,600 per quintal this February, compared with Rs 4,000 in the previous year.” Cotton is sowed after the second week of June, with the first harvest or picking taking place 120 days post sowing, in its 175-180 day span.
The farmers who have basic irrigational access harvest about 12 to 15 quintals per acre, depending upon the availability of the drip irrigation. Cotton is relatively harder than soybean, which can be washed off in heavy rainfall. It can also be picked four to five times despite rains and at least twice if the weather isn’t favourable, told Usha Barwale Zehr, Joint Director of Research at Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company, told the Indian Express.
Farmers generally have to bear the cost of picking which comes at Rs 6000 per acre. Pesticides like Confidor, Actara and Polo amount to Rs 4000 an acre, excluding the Rs 200 labour on each round of spraying the chemical. Other expenses include weeding, fertilizer, and seeding, which costs the least to a farmer. The crop choices then left for a farmer which yield better returns in the kharif season are cotton, pulses, and soybean. Another crop that is in demand this season is maize which is in high demand as poultry feed.