Agri Business

Telangana cotton farmers in distress as heavy rains destroyed crops

K V Kurmanath Enumamula (Warangal) | Updated on October 27, 2020

Farmers waiting with their cotton crop at the Enumamula marketyard in Warangal, Telangana. Hundreds of small farmers bring their produce which is damaged by the recent heavy rains. Discoloured cotton is being sold at ₹3,000-3,800 a quintal as against the minimum support price of ₹5,825   -  KV Kurmanath

Quality of the fibre takes a hit; farmers get less than ₹4,000/quintal

Had all went well, Damera Ramulu (name changed) of Pulakurthy in Peddapally district would have raked in ₹1 lakh from this kharif’s cotton output. But the recent heavy rains have dashed his hopes. What all he is going to get is a meagre ₹12,000 excluding the labour and transport costs.

Hoping for a better price, he, along with some fellow farmers, brought the produce from a distance of 100 km. “They are quoting ₹3,000 a quintal,” he said as he awaited his turn for the produce to be weighed.

Ramulu is not alone. Hundreds of small farmers from the neighbouring districts brought the commodity in the small lots of 8-16 gunny bags. Though there are a few big farmers who brought much bigger lots, most of them who arrived to the Enumamula market, one of the biggest agri markets in the country, are small and marginal farmers.

Poor quality

On Friday, the Enumamula market quoted a minimum price of ₹3,500 and a maximum price of ₹5,000. Cotton with a higher moisture content quoted in the range of ₹3,000-4,765 a quintal.

The quality of the produce has been impacted by the rains and water-logging in vast stretches of Telangana this month. Some districts received rainfall in the range of 20-32 cm, causing severe damage to standing crops.

Acreage, losses

Though the Government estimates put the losses at 13 lakh acres, farmers’ unions pegged the losses to the tune of 25-30 lakh acres as rains ravaged the standing crops.

The State grew cotton on a record area of 60 lakh acres in the kharif under the new Regulated Cropping System this year. It grew the fibre crop on 45 lakh acres in 2018-19 and produced 38.50 lakh bales (of 170 kg each) and 54 lakh acres in 2019-20 and produced 55 lakh bales.

“The damage to cotton crop has been extensive. The State Government should give a compensation of ₹20,000 an acre to farmers,” Beeram Ramulu, Vice-President of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, told BusinessLine.

Tenant farmers, the worst-hit

“The burden on tenant farmers is much more as they are supposed to bear the cost of rentals. Also, they don’t have access to institutional funding,” he said.

“We invested ₹25,000-30,000 an acre for cotton but we ended up getting 4-6 quintals in the first picking. We don’t have any hopes of further pickings as prolonged water-logging has damaged the root system, weakening the plants,” A Rajaiah, another farmer who brought his produce to the market, said.

Traders are not happy either. “After rains stopped, they (farmers) started bringing in the produce. Almost all of it is in damaged condition. We can’t offer a better price,” a trader, who doesn’t want to be quoted, pointed out.

Most of the farmers that this reporter spoke to got a price less than ₹4,000 a quintal.

Published on October 27, 2020

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