The state government Wednesday issued orders to all cotton procurement centres, Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC), district cooperative societies and their offices to remain operational on weekends and holidays to expedite the process of cotton procurement from farmers before the onset of monsoon .
The cash crop, which has the highest cultivation in Maharashtra, is procured by Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) and its sub-agent Maharashtra State Cooperative Cotton Growers Marketing Federation Ltd. These centres, which work across cotton-growing districts, had come to a grinding halt following the Covid-19 lockdown on March 25 and resumed work only recently. Farmers sell their cotton by end-March or early April every year, but the process has been delayed this year.
On Wednesday, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar chaired a meeting at Mantralay to review the cotton stock and work at procurement centres.
“The entire process of cotton procurement from farmers should be completed before monsoon… To achieve this mammoth task, all procurement centres and APMCs, Krishi Kendras and related offices will have to compulsorily work even on weekly holidays, that is Saturday and Sunday,” Pawar said.
The minister added that in Chandrapur and Nanded districts, where ginning factories were not available for buying the cotton stock, such factories located along the borders of neighbouring Telangana can be a viable option.
The state government has also reduced the time for auction of cotton seeds and bales to ginning factories to 10 days from the previous 15.
According to the state cooperation department, which submitted the details of cotton production and procurement till end-May, of the total 410 lakh quintal cotton production for 2019-20, CCI and its sub-agent have procured 188.17 lakh quintal to date, while private traders have purchased 198 lakh quintal.
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