Cold weather in China, low yield in US a boost for Vidarbha cotton growers

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March 04, 2024 Nagpur: Weather disruption in China and low yield in the US came as a late booster shot for cotton growers in Vidarbha, who are currently fetching a price slightly more than minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 7,020 a quintal. However, it may turn out to be a case of too little too late with most farmers having sold out their cotton yield when the market prices were well below the MSP.

Sources say that severe cold in China has affected the crop cycle there while the acreage in the US has sunken, both contributing to shortage of cotton in the global market. As a direct consequence, rates of raw cotton have shot beyond MSP in Vidarbha’s hinterland.

Though farmers are fetching more than MSP now, it is clearly not enough when compared with the 2022 season when rates had touched Rs 13,000 a quintal.

In Vidarbha, the harvest season in October began with a low yield and poor rates. Unseasonal rains damaged the crop, thus not giving enough cotton yield which could command an MSP quality price. Therefore, farmers had to settle for lower rates in the open market. However, in less than a month, the market rates have shot up by ₹1,000 from a languishing price of ₹6,400 a quintal to ₹7,400, benefitting mostly those who either harvested late or had held back their stocks.

“At present, the average rate in Yavatmal is ₹7,400 a quintal and over ₹8,000 in Akot tehsil of Akola district,” said Vijay Nischal, a cotton ginner from Yavatmal. Reports of low stock internationally have fueled the rates, he said.
Manish Jadhav of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana said over half of the farmers have sold off their stocks. Moreover, in a number of market places, the rates are only marginally above the MSP.

Traders say that though on a higher side now, the rates may not remain at the peak for long. The international prices had touched $1.05 for a pound of lint (processed cotton), but have now settled at 97 cents which still keeps the prices above the MSP for Vidarbha farmers.

Prashant Mohta, the managing director of Gimatex Limited, said, “There are reports of extreme cold weather affecting the output in China. There were reports of a fall in US yields too. Besides, the demand for garments is bullish in China. Domestically this has taken the price of lint from ₹58,000- ₹59000 to ₹62,000 per candy. These are rates for processed cotton, which in turn, have made raw cotton sold by farmers costlier too,” he said.

Farm activist Vijay Jawandhia said the govt should incentivize cotton exports so that it further helps jack up the rates. “At this juncture, the rates have increased only due to international factors. The prices of cotton seeds still remain on the lower side,” he said.

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