Sensing rising demand for the extra long staple cotton

G Gurumurthy

`Extra' effort

Companies gear

up to increase their ELS seed output.

Overall demand

for ELS cotton is around 8 lakh-9 lakh bales.

A 15-20

per cent shortfall projected despite the increased output.

Coimbatore, April 18

Cotton growers are this year likely to increase the crop area under DCH-32, the extra long staple (ELS) cotton variety, sensing the rising demand for the strains that yield the 34/36 mm fibre length and whose shortage is widely felt for the last two seasons among the domestic spinners.

The farmers in traditional ELS growing tracts in Karnataka, one of the major DCH-32 growing States, were gearing up on allocating higher acreage this time, despite their worry on finding quality seeds for the sowing, said Mr Mani Chinnasami, Managing Partner of the Pollachi-based Appachi Cotton Company.

`Extra' price

The higher price realisation seen for the ELS cotton strains during 2005-06 season has been a strong factor for the cotton farmers showing this year greater interest on sowing the DCH-32 variety. He said the average price for the DCH cotton this year remained at Rs 3,500-4,000 per quintal when the cottons of short and medium staple varieties were fetching Rs 1,700-2,000 this time around. The DCH-32's highest price quote was at Rs 5,000 a quintal.

He felt that with early showers expected in some of the traditional ELS growing tracts in Karnataka such as Mysore, which account for both irrigated and rainfed cotton tracts, the farmers were expected to start the sowing this month end.


Similar optimism on a higher DCH-32 crop this year has been sounded among the cotton trade circle here. "We are already sensing signs for a higher sowing of ELS varieties this time as the feed back from farmers from Karnataka indicate a higher acreage for DCH-32," said Mr K.N. Viswanathan, Secretary of the South India Cotton Association (SICA).


He expected that in the face of the prevailing shortage of ELS cotton and the urge to shift to ELS cultivation among the growers, the yield of the DCH-32, which fell to a low of around 1.5 lakh bales this year is anticipated to go up three-fold to touch about five lakh bales. Mr Viswanathan felt g the increased yield would come from higher acreage from Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh and new tracts of ELS in Andhra Pradesh, besides a higher crop from Tamil Nadu too.

Sensing the demand push for the ELS, major cotton seed producers such as Mahyco Seeds Ltd, Rasi Seeds, Nuziveedu and the Coimbatore-based Super Spinning Mills, which has its in-house Sara-II ELS hybrid variety too, are gearing up to increase their ELS seed output and reach out to the growers sufficiently in advance. Mahyco is expected to distribute its Bt ELS seeds for 50,000 acres in Karnataka and another 10,000 acres in Tamil Nadu this year.

15-20% shortfall

Of the overall demand for the ELS cotton among the domestic spinners at around 8 lakh-9 lakh bales or so, the projected shortfall despite the increased output of DCH-32 variety will be around 15 to 20 per cent which will continue to be met through imports, the spinning industry sources said.

With farmers hitching for increased ELS crop, the farmers worry centres around getting the quality seeds ensuring varietal purety and germination.


To partly address this concern, the South India Cotton Association in Coimbatore is trying to secure institutional support from the Karnataka State agriculture marketing committee so that the latter could give sufficient space allocation in its marketing yards to store and sell seeds to the cotton farmers there directly.

`We have approached with a request to allow the market yard space in at least four or five such yards where the seed producing companies could be allowed to stock and sell seeds during the crucial two months of sowing season', said Mr Viswanathan.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 19, 2006)
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