The overall acreage is likely to touch 102-104 lakh hectares as against 119 lakh hectares in the previous season and 128 lakh hectares in the season before.
The area under cotton is expected to come down by 10% this season. Around 87 lakh hectares have come under the crop in the country so far, a shortfall of 14-15 lakh hectares that has been caused either by monsoon deficit in some parts or fears of the whitefly and pink bollworm attacks or a push towards other remunerative crops such as pulses, soybean and oilseeds.
The overall acreage is likely to touch 102-104 lakh hectares as against 119 lakh hectares in the previous season and 128 lakh hectares in the season before. According to experts, a 10% shortfall is likely in the overall cotton acreage which could result in a 10 % deficit in the total output. While the crop in Maharashtra and north India is good due to timely sowing, growers in Gujarat fear a pest attack due to monsoon deficit.
According to KR Kranthi, director of Central Institute of Cotton Research, the overall production could touch 300 lakh bales as against last year’s 338 lakh bales. Some industry experts have sounded an alert over the possible re-appearance of the pink bollworm in Gujarat by October-November due to late sowing.
Senior officials, who did not wish to be named, pointed out that there has been a 60% monsoon deficit in Gujarat as a result of which the overall output in the state may drop to around 65 lakh bales from 94 lakh bales in the previous year.
The area under soybean has increased to 1.6 lakh hectares compared to 50,000 hectares that is usually sown every season. The area under groundnut has also increased. Maharashtra as well, there has been an increase in the area under pulses. The area under tur dal (pigeon pea) has gone up to 12.7 lakh hectares from 8.7 lakh hectares last year. There is a 10-15% rise in the area under urad dal and moong dal as well. Urad dal is sown in some 3.8 lakh hectares and moong dal touches some 4.5 lakh hectares normally, he said. This means that farmers are getting back to pulses at a time when the country is going to import them in a big way.
In Maharashtra, this season, some 60-80 lakh packs of Bt cotton were not sold. It is an indicator of farmers’ growing preference either to other varieties of seeds or a shift towards other crops. Until a couple of years ago, Maharashtra had a market of 1.60 crore bags of cotton seeds, of which 96% was Bt cotton. This shrunk to 1.40 crore bags last year. This kharif season, it is expected to come down to 1.24 crore bags, almost all of it is Bt seeds. Poor yield and low market prices of cotton had made farmers to opt for other crops like pulses, maize and soybean, said a source in a seed manufacturing company in the state.
Kranthi, who has been touring the cotton-growing areas of the country, said the crop in Maharashtra has been coming up well since the rains were on time and the sowing also took place in time. The overall output in Maharashtra could be in the range of 85 lakh bales and Punjab has also been doing well because of timely sowing and the shift by farmers towards desi seeds. A total of 72,280 hectares area has come under desi non-Bt varieties and hybrids in the largely irrigated cotton belt of northwest India this year. From the usually expected 10 lakh bales of output, the total production could touch 30-40 lakh bales.