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India: cotton unlikely to fetch farmers good price this yearqrcode

Oct. 23, 2017

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Oct. 23, 2017
After the gloom of deaths due to pesticide poisoning, there is another reason to dampen the spirit of farmers in the cotton-growing areas of Vidarbha.

Trading, which began a week ago, opened on a bearish note. Prices of cotton touched a low of Rs3,500 a quintal, which is way below the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs4,300. However, the government procurement centres which buy at the MSP have not opened yet. The highest rate offered at present is around Rs100 less than the MSP.

Last year, farmers got as much as Rs6,000 for a quintal of cotton and it was after nearly a decade that they were getting good a price. However, in 2016 cotton was not the first priority. Many in the region had preferred to grow tur, going by the rate the pulses fetched a year before. It ended in a glut with tur too slipping below the MSP.

Trade sources say that cotton rates may remain close to the MSP till at least March. It is because a good crop is expected in India and the US which are the two major cotton-producing countries. "The rates may look up after March only if an additional demand is generated, especially from China which has maximum consumption," say sources in the trade.

The estimates of per acre output is yet to be worked out by the agriculture department in Vidarbha. The yield differs in an irrigated and non-irrigated farm. The low rates have left farmers of the region disappointed at present but they are hopeful of the prices improving later.

"We haven't started picking cotton yet. But it's learnt that traders are offering Rs3,800 to Rs4,000 a quintal. They are paying less due to moisture in the cotton bolls," said Satish Thawri of Krusnanpur village in Yavatmal. His father Janglu was among those who died due to pesticide poisoning last month.

Last week's rains increased the moisture content in cotton, bringing down its rates.

"The best quality fetches around Rs4,200," said Arjun Timande of Mendgaon village in Wardha. "The rates are expected to improve in the coming days as this is just the beginning of picking," he added.

Vijay Ingle, of Achalpur tehsil in Amravati district, said traders there are offering Rs3,500 a quintal. "With the crop being affected due to unseasonal rains, I do not expect a yield beyond 12 quintals an acre as against 30 quintals last year," he said.

"Considering the current international trends, the domestic rates are not expected to go beyond Rs4,800 a quintal," said Vijay Jawandiya, a farm activist from Wardha.

"Last year tight inventory took the price up to Rs6,000 a quintal. However, high yield in India and US has already brought the rates down. In US, there is an estimate of 21 million bales as against 16 million bales last year. In India an output of 38 million bales is expected, it was 33.8 million bales last year," said a trader in Mumbai.

Kishore Tiwari the chairman of Vasantrao Naik Shetkwari Swavalamban Mission, said out of 12 million hectares of land under cotton in the country, nearly half is in Maharashtra. "This means, Vidarbha farmers may be left with less returns this year," he said.

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