Cotton procurement by the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) is all set to start soon as states work out norms to be followed in order to control the flow of farmers in the wholesale markets. This would come as a relief to the cotton growers as around 25 per cent of the produce still remains with the farmers.
Soon after the lockdown was announced, trade was suspended in wholesale mandis dealing with agricultural commodities. The state and the central government had allowed the functioning of the mandis dealing with essential commodities like food grains, vegetables, fruits oilseed etc. But the functioning of kapas (raw unginned seed cotton) yards had, however, not started given the lack of clarity in this regard.
Dr P Alli Rani, CMD of CCI, had written two letters to the chief secretary of the states to direct the mandis to start the operations of kapas procurement. CCI’s procurement is via the mandis with the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMC)s certifying the farmer’s produce. “As around 25 per cent of the kapas still with the growers, this lockdown and suspension of trade had created uncertainty among them,” she said. Technically, the CCI’s operations under which the corporation procures cotton from farmers at the government declared Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 5,550 per quintal continues till September, but the speed of procurement slows down post February. This year CCI has procured a record 84.5 lakh bales (each bale weighing 170 kgs) of ginned cotton till now.
Subsequently, states like Maharashtra, Punjab and Telangana had issued guidelines to allow procurement operations of Kapas. Gujarat is also expected to issue a guideline soon. Around three of the Mandis in Maharashtra are expected to resume their kapas operations from next week. In order to control the crowd, district collectors have asked mandis to take measures like issuance of hourly passes to farmers, which would see a limited number of growers coming to the markets.
However, the labour problem at the mandis and the ginning and pressing mills, which are outsourced by the CCI for their operations, have become a major issue for the corporation.
At the farmers’ end, transportation of raw kapas to the mandis is also an issue.
Same is the situation at the ginning and pressing mills were the raw kapas is combed and pressed into bales. Besides, the transportation of pressed bales has hit a road block as drivers are hard to find given that it’s seasonal in nature. Also because most migrant labour from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkdhand have left for their home states right at the start of the lockdown.
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