PUNJAB HAS witnessed a slide of nearly one lakh hectares under cotton crop area this year as compared to the previous year. Also, the area is way short of the estimated target fixed this year. Two main reasons are being cited by the experts for this: One is non-availability of canal water during the major portion of sowing season starting from second week of April till May last and second, farmers got good price of Basmati crop last year as compared to cotton crop.
Cotton and basmati are sown during Kharif season (April to September). This fall in the cotton area may lead to increase area either under highly water intensive crop paddy, which will be sown from June 15, or basmati which will be sown in July.
According to the Punjab agriculture department, this year the total target for cotton area was fixed at four lakh hectares but till June 4, the area recorded under it was 2.83 lakh hectares which is 27 perr cent less than last year, when 3.82 hectares area was under cotton. The ideal sowing season of cotton was between April 15-May 20.
Punjab has eight district under cotton belt including Bathinda, Mansa, Mukatsar Sahib, Fazilka-all four are major cotton districts: Barnala Moga, Faridkot, and Sangrur.
For major four cotton districts, the target was 3.78 lakh hectares of the total 4-lakh target. But these districts could reach up to 2.77 lakh hectares, around one lakh hectares short of their target.
“Sowing season is already over,” said chief agriculture officer (CAO) Paramjit Singh. In Mansa district, only 39,000 hectares could be brought under crop against 60,000 hectares last year. This year, the district target was 88,500 hectares. “We could not get canal water for almost a month during the sowing season,” said he, adding that due to delay in getting water now farmers will go for basmati and Paddy as they got good price for basmati last year,” he added .
“We had fixed the target of 1.40 lakh hectares area in Bathinda, but only 1.10 lakh hectares could be sown here,” said CAO (Bathinda) Gurditta Singh. In Muktsar Sahib, too, only 52,000 hectares could be sown against 64,600 hectares last year while the target of this year was 70,000 hectares.
In Fazilka, another major cotton district, 76,000 hectares were brought under cotton against the target of 80,000 hectares. “We wanted to take it up to one lakh hectares but we could not get water from April second week till April 28 due to which we could not meet the target, said CAO (Fazilka) Beant Singh.
Meanwhile, Faridkot, Sangrur, Moga, Barnala districts also sow around 20,000 hectares area under cotton but here, too, the target could not be met.
“In most parts of the cotton belt, canal water could not be supplied for around three weeks from second weeks from Apil beginning till April end and even in some areas the water could be supplied after first week of May, due to which our target could not be completed,” said Director, Punjab agriculture department Dr J S Bains, adding that canals were not cleaned on time due to which sowing got affected, adding that area under cotton could have gone much higher this time. “Now, a sizeable number of farmers would prefer Basmati and paddy over cotton,” said he.
Last season cotton price which started from around Rs 4,000 to 4,100 per quintal which went up to Rs 5,200 per quintal while farmers got around Rs 3,000 to 3,500 per quintal basmati. On an average, 10-12 quintals cotton are harvested from one acre while Basamati yield is around 18-20 quintals per acre.