The area under cotton cultivation in the last 10 years have almost doubled in the state if the figures available with the state agriculture department is any indication.
The figures say that almost 33 per cent of the total of 89 lakh hectares under agriculture is currently under cotton cultivation. This year’s cotton acreage is about 30 lakh hectares.
According to H M Babaria, deputy director (statistics) in the department of agriculture, the acreage under cotton cultivation witnessed constant increase from 2001 onwards.
According to him, it was 16 lakh hectares in 2001, which increased to 17.5 lakh hectares in 2002.
However, it came down to 16.34 lakh hectares in 2003 but again increased to 17 lakh hectares in 2004, 19 lakh in 2005, 20 lakh hectares in 2006, 23 lakh hectares in 2007 and 24 lakh in 2008. However, it fell to 23.64 in 2009 but again saw an increase to 24.64 lakh hectares in 2010 and 26.30 lakh hectares in 2011. It further rose to over 30 lakh hectares in 2012. In 2013, the acreage under cotton was 25.19 lakh and it is again rose to 30 lakh hectares during the current season in 2014.
The main reason for growth of area under cotton cultivation, according to Babaria, is the availability of Bt cotton seed resistant to pests and insects thus increasing the productivity and quality of the produce that fetched better prices in the market and increase in farmers income. Agriculture scientists say that Bt cotton’s resistance to attack of pests and insects has also brought down the cost of production as farmers have to spend less on pesticides etc to protect the crops.
Another reason for increase of acreage under cotton cultivation, according to agriculture department officials, is the availability of irrigation facilities like Narmada water reaching the farmers in districts like Vadodara, Anand, Kheda and Surendranagar as also similar facilities developed in North Gujarat districts.
The districts where additional areas were brought under cotton cultivation, according to agriculture department figures, are Bharuch, Vadodara, Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Patan, Banaskantha, and of course, all the districts in Saurashtra region.
According to agriculture department officials, farmers went for cotton cultivation because of more profit than in other cash crops.