The hybrid seeds trade is bullish on prospects in the upcoming kharif season as higher commodity prices and forecast of a normal monsoon have triggered demand from farmers for seeds of crops such as cotton, maize and soyabean among others in parts of southern and central India.

“We are seeing extremely good demand for cotton seeds in Gujarat, central India, Karnataka and South,” said Ankur Aggarwal, CEO, Crystal Crop Protection Ltd, which acquired Bayer’s seed brands in India last year.

The purchase of cottonseeds by farmers is aggressive. Karnataka and Gujarat have done well, while cotton seeds sales in Maharashtra have begun. “We believe that aggressive purchase by farmers is a sign of increased acreages of cotton,” Aggarwal said adding the company expects to see a minimum growth of 10 per cent.

Beneficial summer rains

The summer rains have been good across South India and as per the latest figures the rainfall was 64 per cent more than normal during the season from March 1 till May 18, while the precipitation in the region was 173 per cent more during the week-ended May 18. For the country as a whole, rainfall was up 122 per cent during the week ended May 18. The good summer rains have already prompted farmers to start the sowing season early this year in some areas.

Shardul Sheth, co-founder and CEO, AgroStar, which sells inputs such as seed and agrochemicals to farmers through its online platform and retail stores, said cotton farmers have been purchasing seeds three weeks in advance. “We are seeing a strong trend in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra for cottonseeds, Uttar Pradesh for paddy and Madhya Pradesh for soyabean seeds. We are seeing a fantastic uptake in the purchase of seeds. It’s only a month into the season, our sales have already grown 100 per cent year-on-year for that month,” Sheth said.

Positive sentiment

Crystal Crop’s Aggarwal said the overall sentiment is looking positive as the IMD forecast is good for rains till July. “The best part is commodity prices are extremely supportive. Prices of horticulture produce, chilly, cotton, soyabean, paddy, wheat, pulses are all good. There is no reason that farmers’ investment will be a problem. If we have a decent spread of monsoon, we should have good agriculture this year,” Aggarwal added.

In North India, the cotton planting season is the last phase and the overall acreage is likely to exceed last year’s levels. M Ramasami, Founder of Rasi Seeds Pvt Ltd, the largest selling hybrid cottonseed in the country, said the sentiment is good and there is likely to be some increase in the area in Central and South. In Gujarat, there is some improvement and sales will start from next month in other regions. “We see some movement happening in M.P and south Rajasthan. Sales will pick up in June first week,” he said.

Sateesh Nukala, CEO and co-founder, BigHaat, an online vendor of agri inputs, said the demand is looking strong this year based on our data and acreages are going to be up given the cotton prices are at a lifetime high. Nukala expects sales to start next week.