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Cotton Ginners refuse to restart their operations in fear of virus

Pradeep Jain, founder president of Khandesh Gin/Press Owners and Traders Development Association, said they will wait till the end of the lockdown on May 3.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune | Published: April 21, 2020 10:48:39 pm
cotton, cotton farmers, cotton farmer, gm cotton production, genetically modified (GM) cotton hybrids, GM Cotton farmers, cotton farming From April 20, the state government decided to restart industries in areas, which are relatively free of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

Cotton Ginners in Maharashtra have decided against restarting their operations, even the state government has allowed partial leeway for industries to operate in rural areas. Pradeep Jain, founder president of Khandesh Gin/Press Owners and Traders Development Association, said they will wait till the end of the lockdown on May 3.

From April 20, the state government decided to restart industries in areas, which are relatively free of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. All agri-based industries have got the leeway even during the lockdown, but a majority of ginners and pressers have decided to suspend their operations in fear of the spread of the infection. With around 30 per cent of the kapas (raw unginned seed cotton) still with farmers, the decision of the ginners has put growers in a fix. The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has written to state governments to allow them to restart MSP procurement in the state.

Jain, while speaking to The Indian Express said they had decided to wait till May 3 to restart operations. Labour, he said, was a major issue as most workers had left for their native villages and were yet to return. A single unit requires around 50-odd workers, who work in a single shift.

During a meeting called by the district collector of Jalagon, Jain and other ginners of the region had expressed their reservations in restarting operations.

“The norms of social distancing, mask and sanitising the premises every 30 minutes are not feasible for us,” he said. Also, the movement of workers from outside the state is still banned, which can increases the risk of infection.

“Already, there are cases reported even in remote Nandurbar and given the widespread impact of the virus, we feel it will not be prudent to start early,” he said.

Cotton being a non-perishable commodity, growers can hold on to their produce for a longer time.

At present, the demand for pressed cotton has gone down given most of the textile mills have downed shutters. Price of cotton candy ( 356 kg of pressed cotton) has gone down from Rs 43,000 to Rs 34,000.

“Trade has come to a standstill; after the lockdown, we are hopeful that things will look up,” he said.

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