Unseasonal rainfall in the last fortnight has delayed the arrival of cotton in the state by at least 15 days, Khandesh Ginners Association founder president Pradeep Jain said. Crop on around 19 lakh hectares of the total 43 lakh hectares, where it is cropped, reportedly suffered damage due to the rain.
Last year, more farmers had taken to cotton cultivation due to prevailing better prices. While scant shower had caused concern during its growth phase, farmers had reported good crop health after the state received sufficient rain. The unseasonal rain, Jain said, however, damaged the crop during the ongoing picking (harvest) period.
“There are reports of about 30-40 per cent damage. The damaged crop has higher moisture content and is retailing at Rs 3,500-4,500 per quintal,” he said. With hopes pinned on a long spell of sunny days, most farmers, Jain added, are delaying to bring their produce to the market. In fact, the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) — a public sector agency engaged in trade, procurement and export of cotton — is yet to start procurement operations, he said.
Earlier, industry sources had hinted at a 20 per cent increase in production this year. Last year, India produced 312 lakh bales (each weighing 170 kg) of cotton.
Highlighting that increased soil moisture will extend the life span of the crop, Jain said, “This year, farmers will be able to harvest seed cotton till March-April. If we take that in consideration, we feel, the total damage to the crop would be restricted to around 10-15 per cent only.”
A bigger concern for ginners, however, is the availability of cheap imports, which has stacked the market against the domestic industry. At present, the imported candy (a candy has 364 kg of cotton) is retailing at Rs 38,000, while ginners have priced the indigenous candy at around Rs 42,000. “Lack of any regulation on imports have stacked the odds against the domestic industry,” he said.
Meanwhile, seed cotton is expected to trade below its government declared minimum support price of Rs 5,500 per quintal.