Agri Business

Cotton set to make comeback as pulses disappoint growers

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 17, 2017

cotton-table

Industry expects sales of 4.20 crore packets next kharif

After losing out about 20 per cent area to pulses, cotton is set to regain the lost ground in the upcoming kharif season.

With prices of pulses crashing, farmers are expected to go back for cotton next season. The seed industry expects a growth of 20 per cent in sales next season over the 3.6 crore packets it sold last year, or an increase of 60-65 lakh packets.

Dramatic increase in cotton prices this year too is likely to make farmers to come back to the crop. After a disastrous season the previous year, cotton prices touched ₹6,100 a quintal at the peak in September 2016, as against ₹1,500-2,000 in September 2015. Those grew cotton this season reaped good returns.

However, farmers found pulses hard to be remunerative. “We expect a big shift in North India. Cotton will make a return in those areas. Those farmers who shifted to pulses over the last three years because of higher prices of those commodities, will come back to cotton as prices have fallen,” P Satheesh Kumar, former president of Seedsmen Association of Andhra Pradesh, told BusinessLine.

Though the industry pegged sales of 4.40 crore packets in the beginning of the season in 2016, actual numbers showed that farmers consumed only 3.60 crore packets because of increased interest among farmers in pulses. In the Telangana, it was redgram that made a dent into cotton area, along with pulses in some areas.

The north consumed 50-55 lakh packets as against the normal acreage of 80 lakh packets. The industry expects a consumption level of 75 lakh packets in the region. Cotton acreage fell down to about 103 lakh hectares in 2016-17 from 116 lakh ha in 2015-16, resulting in a drop of production to 351 lakh bales from 338 lakh bales during the period.

The area saw a peak in 15 years in 2014-15 as farmers grew cotton in a record 128.46 lakh ha that year. This resulted in a bounty for the cottonseed industry. It registered sales of over 5 crore packets that year. We have been seeing a decline ever since.

This time, however, the industry foresees a re-bound of interest in cotton. This is despite huge number of deaths reported in cotton-growing areas in seven States.

With pink bollworm developing resistance to Bollgard-II technology and attractive prices in other crops resulted in a drop of area in the last two years.

“Though we don’t expect it to grow to the highest level, the acreage would certainly grow by at least 20 per cent,” Satheesh said.

Inventory

The industry sees no problem in the availability of seeds. “There are no issues on (seed) production front. There were good rains and irrigation facilities. The industry has good inventories too to back up,” Satheesh said.

Jaipal, a farmer from Warangal, said favourable weather in 2016 and a good market helped farmers get good prices. “The Centre had asked the farmers not to grow cotton keeping in view a very bad season in the previous year. Fear of poor performance of Bt cotton too, made some farmers keep off from cotton. But favourable weather has changed it all. We got good prices this time and we hope the trend will continue next year as well,” he said.

Published on January 17, 2017

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