Cotton farmers in Guntur district have suffered a crippling blow as the recent rains damaged the crop on 75,000 acres, according to official estimates. Officials say that the figure may rise further as loss enumeration has not been completed yet. Guntur and Prakasam are the major cotton growing districts in the State. It comes as a double blow to the cotton ginning industry in the State, already in a grave crisis due to acute power crisis.
It is estimated that there may be a steep fall in cotton yields as the crop has been badly damaged in several areas. The average yield is 10 quintals per acre. Cotton Corporation of India has, of late, opened procurement centres to buy the crop at Rs 3,900/quintal, but it is not certain how much will be paid to the damaged cotton, even though Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy has promised cotton farmers in the State that he will prevail upon the CCI to purchase the cotton.
According to some estimates, farmers may lose Rs 15,000-20,000 on an investment of Rs 40,000 or so per acre. The position of tenant farmers is more pathetic as they are not eligible for whatever relief is provided by the State Government. Farmers have urged the State Government and the corporation to go to their rescue.
Cotton ginning units in Guntur district, as elsewhere in the State, are in a deep crisis, as the Government is unable to supply power and it is becoming impossible to operate the units, according to sources. According to N. Raghava Rao, Secretary of the AP Ginning Mills’ Association, they are able to operate the units for just three days a week, given the power supply position.
“In fact, earlier we decided to close down the units from November 5 in protest against poor power supply, but due to the recent torrential rains we have deferred the move, as we do not want to add to the woes of farmers,” he said.
Ginning units are suffering heavy losses and as a result ginning and pressing charges had to be enhanced. Ginning charges for a bale of cotton is at present Rs 1,000 and may go up further. “Some of the ginning mills have invested heavily in modernising and upgrading the machinery and now they are the worst-hit, as they are unable to run the mills even at 50 per cent capacity,” he said and pleaded with the Government to rescue the industry.