CCI in wait-and-watch mode in Punjab amid volatile market conditions for cotton

As per officials, private players are likely to play an instrumental role and farmers are expected to get paid better even as the yield is likely to be lower; cotton purchase season will begin in Punjab from October 1 -

August 18, 2022 The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) is in a wait-and-watch mode ahead of the 2022-23 kharif marketing season even as Punjab agriculture authorities hope that like last year, the central agency will have little role to play in cotton purchase.

Cotton purchase season will begin in the state on October 1 and as per officials, private players are likely to play an instrumental role as the international market is volatile and farmers are expected to get paid better even as the yield is likely to be lower.

CCI officials, overseeing cotton farming in Punjab, say the present situation is uncertain to conclude if the agency would be required in the market.

“Punjab circle is maintaining a close watch as the purchase season is a month and a half away. In spite of exceptionally high rates in 2021-22, when there was a drastic fall in production due to a pink bollworm attack, farmers of semi-arid districts shied away from cotton cultivation this season. Rain and whitefly attack has hit the cotton acreage and use of unapproved seeds would further affect the yield,” said the CCI official.

As per the provisional data of the state agriculture department, about 2.47 lakh hectares or 6.20 lakh acres was under cotton this year.

In 2020-21, Punjab witnessed a bumper cotton production of 49 lakh quintals that dropped to 22 lakh quintals in the next kharif season.

Punjab agriculture director Gurvinder Singh the latest field inputs suggest that the area is likely to decline to 2.20 lakh hectares or 5.50 lakh acres due to waterlogging and poor farm practices.

Against the average per acre yield of 10 quintals, this time it may be downed by 3 quintals, he said.

“But the market trend indicates that the rates of raw cotton would remain at more than ₹10,000 quintal, much higher than the expected minimum support price (MSP) for the current kharif season. Climatic conditions have now controlled whitefly infestation to a great extent and incidents of ploughing standing crop have almost stopped. But the impact of the deadly pink bollworm will be visible after two weeks, before harvesting begins by the end of the next month,” said the director.

Unapproved cotton seeds

According to the state agriculture officials, key cotton-growing districts of Bathinda and Mansa are under unapproved seeds and it will impact the overall production count of the cash crop.

Bathinda chief agriculture officer (CAO) Dilbag Singh said that of the estimated 62,000 hectares, about 30% is under unapproved cotton varieties.

“Field inspections show stunted growth in fields where farmers sowed unrecommended cotton varieties. Such plants will have low yield and poor quality,” he said.

Officiating CAO of Mansa, Manoj Kumar said nearly 10-15% of cotton acreage in the district has unapproved plantations and it is blamed for the pest attack.

Gurpreet Singh, who holds the dual charge of CAO for Fazilka and Muktsar, said this time the conditions, including poor irrigation support and erratic power supply in the initial stage, remained hostile for the traditional crop of the region.

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