Agri Business

Extra long staple cotton prices surge on fears of supply shortage

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on September 24, 2021

Raw cotton prices are ruling between ₹11,000 and ₹13,000 per quintal this year as against ₹5,500-6,500 per quintal last year.

Prices of the extra long staple Dharwad Hybrid Cotton-32 (DCH-32) have almost doubled over the past year on fears of a shortfall in production due to lower planting of the crop. Also, the global rally in varieties such as Pima and Giza has influenced domestic prices, trade sources said.

DCH kapas (raw cotton) prices are ruling between ₹11,000 and ₹13,000 per quintal in markets such as Chitradurga and Ranebennur in Karnataka, said Shantilal P Ostawal of Cotseeds Corporation, a ginner in Hubballi. Ostawal said the prices were ₹5,500-6,500 per quintal last year.

Advantage Karnataka

Cotton with fibre length of over 33 mm are considered as ELS and DCH-32 is mainly grown in parts of Mysuru, Shimoga, Haveri, Chitradurga, Dharwad and Belgaum districts in Karnataka. It is also grown in regions around Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, Ostwal said.

ELS varieties such as Surabhi and Suvin are grown in Tamil Nadu, but the area is less. DCH grown in Mysuru region finds it way to Tamil Nadu for ginning and pressing, Ostwal said.

Karnataka accounts for 50-60 per cent share of the ELS cotton produced in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh with around 30 per cent and Tamil Nadu accounting for the rest, Ostwal said.

Overall production for DCH 32 stood at 2.35 lakh bales last year, with production in Karnataka estimated at 1.10 lakh bales. “This year the crop is estimated lower in Karnataka at around 75,000 bales, Madhya Pradesh at 60,000-70,000 bales and Tamil Nadu 5,000 bales,” Ostwal said.

Growers’ problems

Over the past 3-4 years, the ELS cotton has been witnessing an uptrend, said Appuswamy Lakshmanan, Director, Sri Santhalakshmi Mills in Pollachi. However, due to difficulties faced in growing ELS cotton, more farmers are shifting to the regular Bt varieties.

“The period of ELS cultivation is pretty long compared to the short or medium staple cotton. The ELS crop cycle takes a minimum of six months and farmers, not wanting to take any risks, are shifting to Bt cotton and that’s the reason the area is coming down,” Lakshmanan said. Moreover, the minimum support price for ELS is not remunerative, he said, adding that concerted efforts were required to bring back farmers to cultivating the premium cotton.

In India, Bt cotton accounts for over 97 per cent of the cotton acreage.

Susceptible to pink bollworm

M Ramaswami, Rasi Seeds Managing Director, said yields are lower by 25 per cent in ELS compared to Bt cotton. Also, DCH is susceptible to the pink bollworm.

Pima and Giza cotton prices have flared up in the US on crop shortage and are ruling at around 230 cents per pound, double the 110-115 cents last year, said Ramanuj Das Boob, a sourcing agent for domestic mills and multinational companies. DCH cotton prices, which ruled at Rs 1.03-1.04 lakh per candy of 356 kg last week, have now increased to Rs 1.07 lakh. ELS cotton is used for blending in yarn to add strength and exported, Boob said. Besides, higher count cotton is also used for clothing and linen. The imported price of ELS cotton into India with a 10 per cent duty costs around Rs 1.30 lakh a candy.

Published on September 24, 2021

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