Cotton farmers seem to be heading for big trouble. The violent protest by farmers at the Yenumamula Market Yard in Warangal district, one of the biggest cotton mandis in the country, is an indication of anger simmering among farmers.
Hundreds of farmers ransacked the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) office at the market, demanding that the agency buy all the cotton that arrived there.
Hoping to cash in on the huge demand for the natural fibre last year, farmers had increased the acreage by almost 50 per cent — from 15 lakh hectares to 22 lakh hectares — last kharif.
A series of dry spells and cyclone Nilam left the crop badly affected, as in the case of other crops in the State.
“The production came down by 50 per cent. “We used to get 12-13 quintals an acre. But we are not going to get more than 5-6 quintals,” Ruthu, who grew cotton on five acres, said.
The interest was so huge that the cotton acreage surpassed that of paddy for the first time in Andhra Pradesh.
“We went for cotton expecting a price of Rs 4,500-5,000 a quintal. But we are being forced to sell it at Rs 3,100-3,500,” a farmer, who participated in Monday’s protest at Warangal, told Business Line over phone.
Sarampally Malla Reddy, Vice-President of All-India Kisan Sabha, said that there were no scientific methods used at some mandis in measuring the length of the staple.
“They are deciding the price unilaterally. Farmers are at the receiving end as they are not in a position to take the stock back home,” he said.
Poor price and rejections at mandis are forcing the farmers to sell to traders off-the-market.
“But traders are getting more when they sell the same at the mandis,” he said.
The Government has increased the minimum support price to Rs 2,800-3,600 a quintal for medium staple and Rs 3,300-3,900 for long staple for the 2012-13 season.
Malla Reddy said farmers had to sow more than once in at least four lakh hectares due to the climatic vagaries, forcing them to spend about Rs 7,000 more.