Delay in cotton sowing may hit dept’s target

Though the Agriculture Department last month revised its target area for cotton cultivation at 4 lakh hectares, experts say it is unlikely to achieve the same, particularly in view of the fact that the cotton sowing has already got late due to delay in harvesting of wheat in the state. As per PAU recommendations, the ideal time for sowing cotton is before May 15.

Interestingly, the department had earlier set a target of 3 lakh hectares, but later increased it in view of increase in cotton prices at the fag-end of the season. The department felt that it may persuade more farmers to opt for cotton farming in the Malwa region.

However, talking to The Tribune, former North India Cotton Association president Ashok Kapur said, “Cotton sowing has been a rather low key affair this time, primarily due to delay in harvesting of wheat crop in the aftermath of a spell of rainfall last month. Besides, the election too seems to have taken a toll on sowing activity.”

He felt that the Agriculture Department has pegged the target area on the higher side, as he doesn’t expect the area to increase from 2.84 lakh hectares in 2018-19 to 4 lakh hectares in 2019-20. He, however, said the area might cross 3 lakh hectares this time. “It is true the farmers fetched a price of above Rs 6,000 per quintal when the season was coming to close, but they were the ones who had holding capacity. Not all the farmers can hold their produce for long and a majority of them sell it off early in the season. However, I still feel it will prompt more farmers to opt for cotton, but only time will tell to what extent,” he added.

PAU’s senior farm economist Dr GS Romana admitted, “Cotton sowing is comparatively slow this year, as rough estimates suggest that only 50 per cent sowing has taken place till May 15, which is the ideal period for it.”

He said another factor that delayed cotton sowing was delay in repair of canals and release of water in them. He said the farmers still have few days left for sowing cotton, though that too would be late.

He said the risk would further increase from June 1 onwards due to hot weather conditions, as it would affect the growth of cotton plant. He also opined that the target area of 4 lakh hectares seemed “unachievable”.

Incidentally, though the area under cotton cultivation was 2.56 lakh hectares in 2016, the cotton produce fetched prices up to Rs 6,500 per quintal, which encouraged more farmers to go for the cotton crop in 2017 and the area under it rose to 3.83 lakh hectares. However, it again declined to 2.84 lakh hectares in 2018. Cotton is primarily cultivated in Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Faridkot, Fazilka, Sangrur, Barnala and Moga districts.

Source: The Tribune, India
Tuesday, 21 May 2019

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