COTTON GROWERS in the country have accelerated their sales fearing another lockdown and disruption of sales. Till December 24, Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has reported a procurement of 65.10 lakh bales (each bale weighing 170 kg in combed ginned cotton), which is almost double the amount it procured last year at the same time.
Cotton growers have started bringing in their produce to the markets and procurement centres of CCI since October. Normally, sales pick up after January as farmers tend to dry their crop after picking in hope of better returns. Pradeep Kumar Agarwal, chairperson-cum-managing director of CCI, said sales were brisk. “We have seen procurement picking up across the country,” he said.
Telangana recorded the highest procurement, where 4.83 lakh farmers sold 21.86 lakh bales of cotton to the CCI. Maharashtra with 2.05 lakh farmers selling 10.99 lakh bales has come second. Gujarat, the highest cotton producing state in the country, has recorded only 38,021 farmers bringing 1.92 lakh bales of cotton. Overall, 12.66 lakh farmers have sold 65.10 lakh bales to CCI, for which they have been paid Rs 19,048.87 crore as per the government-declared minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 5,825 per quintal.
At present, wholesale prices of cotton in most mandis in Maharashtra range from Rs 5,400 to Rs 5,500 per quintal. PK Jain, founder president of Khandesh Cotton Gin/Press Owners and Traders Development Association, said most farmers were scared that CCI will suspend their MSP operations and, thus, were hurrying to offload their produce.
“Recently, citing quality issues, MSP operations that were taking place at Rs 5,825 have been corrected to Rs 5,605 per quintal. Thus, farmers are mostly rushing to sell their produce,” he said.
Jain also said out of 340 lakh bales the country was supposed to produce this season, 140 lakh bales had reached markets. “Around 200 lakh more bales would be coming in,” he said.
Indian cotton traders are upbeat about the prospects of the crop this year with cotton candy (376 kg of cotton) trading at Rs 42,000 as against the prevalent price of Rs 44,000 in the international market. Jain said they were confident that 60 lakh bales of cotton would be exported, with Bangladesh and Vietnam being the main buyers.