Cotton farmers feel the pinch in Punjab as rates fall short of expectations

April 23, 2023 written by

At present, the rate of raw cotton is Rs 6,500 to Rs 8,200 per quintal, while it was Rs 8,500 to Rs 9,600 per quintal in December (2022).

After the Lohri festival though the farmers have started bringing kapas (unginned cotton) to the Punjab mandis, they are not getting the expected price which they were assuming earlier (farmers were expecting the price to rise by about Rs 10,000 per quintal following the festival).

But they are getting much
more than the minimum support price (MSP) – which is Rs 6,080 and Rs 6,380 for medium and long-staple cotton, respectively – announced by the central government for this season.

At present, the rate of raw cotton is Rs 6,500 to Rs 8,200 per quintal, while it was Rs 8,500 to Rs 9,600 per quintal in December (2022). In January-February 2022 farmers had fetched Rs 13,000 to Rs 14,000 per quintal, which was an all-time high rate of raw cotton in the state, while the MSP was Rs 5,726 and Rs 6,025 per quintal for medium and long-staple cotton, respectively, last year.

Around 45% less productivity is expected this year in Punjab because of the attack of various diseases during the cropping season.

The Punjab Mandi Board, the state received 4.62 lakh quintals of raw cotton against around 28.90 lakh quintals last year during the entire season.

Experts said that this year the cotton yield had come down due to high fluctuation in temperature in July and August, and because of this temperature variation the plants could not grow to their proper size which affected the yield.

In Punjab, cotton is grown in Bathinda, Fazilka, Mansa, Muktsar, Moga, Barnala, Sangrur, Ludhiana and Faridkot districts. This season, so far the maximum cotton arrived in Fazilka where 1.65 lakh quintals arrived against 9.25 quintals last year followed by Mansa wherein 1.32 lakh quintals of cotton arrived against 7.75 lakh quintals last year.

Bathinda witnessed 78,207 quintals against 5.51 lakh quintals last year, while Muktsar Sahib saw 62,000 quintals against 5.62 lakh quintals last year. In Faridkot 12,313 quintals of cotton arrived against 35,722 quintals last year. In Barnala 6,890 quintals of cotton was received against 24,413 quintals last year. Sangrur got 5,481 quintals of cotton against 16,095 quintals last year. While just 1.40 quintals of cotton arrived in Ludhiana mandis, there was zero arrival in Moga mandis this year.
To date 5,533 quintals of desi cotton has arrived in Punjab mandis against 18,044 quintals last year.

Sanjiv Dutt, vice-president of Punjab-based Winsome Textile, said that this year the rate could not go up to Rs 10,000 and beyond per quintal even after the Lohri festival because worldwide the rates are not as high as they were last year. “The world is passing through recession, while last year (2021-22) the shelves were empty worldwide due to Covid (in 2020-21). But now more focus is on meeting basic needs rather than spending on luxury items (cotton fabrics come under luxury fabrics), he added.

Now, farmers are also tired of keeping the crop at home after harvesting it two months ago and they have started bringing it to the mandis where they are getting a price which is above MSP, Dutt said.

For the uninitiated, kapas is also known as seed cotton. Kapas is unginned cotton which is white fibrous substance (lint) that covers the seed obtained from cotton plant. Ginning is a process that separates lint from the seed.

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