The Telangana government is targeting to increase the area under cotton by 55–65 per cent to about 28–30 lakh hectares (lh) from last year’s 18 lakh hectares even as the cottonseed industry pegged the growth in cotton acreage at 15 per cent in the upcoming kharif season, starting July.

Farmers, enthused by attractive prices and demand for the fibre crop this season, are expected to go in for higher coverage.

From the start of the cotton season in October 2021, the natural fibre’s prices have been ruling well above its minimum support price of ₹5,726 for medium staple cotton. Prices over the last few weeks have been ruling near ₹12,000 a quintal in most agricultural markets across the country.

Shift from cotton this year

Farmers who had shifted from cotton to chilli and paddy this season suffered huge losses as the spice crop was badly damaged due to a virus attack.

Though farmers grew cotton in about 24 lh in 2020-21 season, the acreage fell by 6 lh this season, surprising the government which expected coverage to cross the 28 lh-mark. Encouraged by a record acreage of 24 lh in 2020-21, the Telangana government had set a target of 28 lh for cotton in 2021-22. It, however, fell flat as farmers chose to drastically cut the area to about 18 lh.

“We are expecting cotton acreage of 28-30 lh in the upcoming kharif season, while paddy coverage is expected to be 20 lh. Besides, we will have horticultural crops cultivated in about 5 lh. Red gram is expected to be sown in about 6 lh,” said S Niranjan Reddy, Telangana Agriculture Minister.

The total cropped area for the season will likely be about 57 lh.

Identifying clusters

The State government has identified 1,332 cotton, 1,000 paddy and 82 red gram clusters.

“We are going to have a specific crop plan for each crop in these clusters,” the minister said.

The State Agriculture Ministry held a high-level meeting to discuss a comprehensive plan for the kharif season. The government estimates that 5 lakh tonnes of urea would be required for the season.

The growth in Telangana’s cotton acreage is in line with industry’s expectations. The area under cotton dropped by some 8 lakh hectares to 120 lh across the country, against the previous season’s acreage of 127.87 lh. The cottonseed industry, however, sees recovery around the corner and has forecast growth of about 15 per cent over last year’s acreage.

Keeping the growth numbers in view, it pegged a requirement of about 4.75 crore packets of seeds for the season.