Agri Business

Maize farmers look to shift to cotton

L. N. Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on February 11, 2011

Focussed on lucrative cash crops such as maize.   -  Business Line

Notwithstanding the acute shortage of farm hands and rising labour cost, a group of the 70-odd farmers who had responded to the call given by the South India Cotton Association (SICA) to visit its model farm here said they intended to switch to cotton cultivation in the coming season.

These farmers were from in and around Tirupur, Erode and Coimbatore districts.

Most of them that Business Line spoke to, have been cultivating maize for some years now. “We were cultivating cotton some three decades back, but were compelled to give up because we burnt our fingers badly. Now, we foresee positive indications. Prices are remunerative and the rainfall this year appears to be in our favour,' said Mr Gopalakrishnan, Ex-President of Viruthapatti Gram Panchayat.

Stating that the area under cotton was not much at present in the Madathukulam Taluk (near Udumalpet), Mr Gopalakrishnan and the 25-farmers who had accompanied him said they would be able to bring at least 500 acres under cotton cultivation in that belt in the next 3-4 years.

Contract farming not preferred

But they did not seem to be interested in the contract cotton farming system. We prefer to sell the produce directly instead of being tied to one party, they echoed.

These farmers were taken around the 60-cent SICA – Monsanto Cotton Demo Farm where hybrids such as Brahma BollGard (BG) II, the prominent Bt cotton variety, and others such as Sudharshan BG II, Atal BG II and Maxcott BG II were cultivated.

SICA sources said that the crop was 161 days old, and the first picking was over. “We got around 2 quintals,” the SICA spokesperson said.

He further said that seed cotton was selling at Rs 7,500-8,000 a quintal at present and the Minimum Support Price hovered around Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,500. “Farmers can benefit by adopting the latest technologies and practices,” he added.

Labour problems

Meanwhile Mr Vellingiri, a farmer hailing from V Kallipalayam, made a comparison of the wages of yesteryear with the present. “In the late 60s, we used to pay a woman farm hand Rs 1/day, while the men folk earned double that amount. The average daily plucking stood at 35-40 kg then. Now, a woman coolie is demanding not less than Rs 150-200 a day and they harvest 15-20 kg/day. That's not all. It is very difficult to get trained farm labour,” he added.

Published on February 11, 2011

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