Ahead of wheat procurement in the state, Punjab government Tuesday resumed purchase of cotton in Malwa belt to test operations in lockdown conditions. Procurement was started in Bathinda and Mansa on Tuesday and will also begin in Faridkot, Abohar, Fazilka and Muktsar mandis. In Punjab, nearly 45 lakh quintals of cotton has been sold in mandis this season, while the remaining lot of around 4 lakh quintal is still left which will be sold out in few days, the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) office in Bathinda revealed. The procurement drive is expected to be completed in a month’s time in a staggered manner.
Cotton procurement, which begins in October, usually gets over by February or mid-March in the state mandis. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions that started early March, some stock was left unsold, revealed Rajnish Goel, District Mandi Board Officer (DMO), Mansa.
He said, “In order to maintain social distancing, only 20 trolleys were allowed in mandis Tuesday. They were given passes on first-come-first-serve basis. Wearing masks is mandatory, even sanitising self. A total of 446 quintals of cotton was purchased by CCI in Mansa.” Punjab Mandi Board officials said that mandi yards are being marked with 30×30 feet vertical lines to accommodate the trolleys, while sodium hypochlorite is being sprayed on trolleys entering the mandis.
Gurpreet Singh, a farmer from Bajewala village, said,”I sold 30 quintals at Rs 5,351 per quintal, while MSP is 5,450 per quintal. They citied quality for less price. I was expecting more than the MSP, however due to corona scare, I sold it quickly.”
Davinder Singh, another farmer from Ramdittewala village of Mansa, said,” I sold out 35 quintals at Rs 5,405 per quintal. It was Rs 40 less than the MSP. But I don’t mind. I cannot come again due of corona crisis.”
The pending stock will be picked up by CCI as there is no private player in the mandis for purchase due to units lying closed.
Many farmers intentionally stock this cash crop till the end of season hoping to secure better prices. “Most of them are either big farmers or traders themselves,” said a CCI official.