Cotton farmers staged a protest at the grain market in Bathinda, alleging private players had decreased the prices of the produce in mandis, coercing them to sell the crop on low rates.
Cotton farmers in Mansa district have not been getting MSP in some mandis. The growers alleged citing poor quality, private players were quoting a low price (below MSP) for the produce. This at a time when cotton in the Malwa region fetched an all-time high price at Rs 9,400 per quintal this season. The untimely spell of rain coupled with the pink bollworm attack has caused substantial damage to the crop in the region this season, affecting the production.
Sandeep Singh, a farmer from Shergarh village from Bathinda district, said, “The top quality of cotton which I sold for Rs 8,500 on a per-quintal basis just over a week ago is not being sold for more than Rs 7,500 now. We will not accept low rates for the premium quality of cotton.”
Jagdev Singh, another farmer from Jai Singhwala village, said, “Cotton was bought for Rs 9,400 on a per quintal basis just a while ago but now, the prices have been brought down by private players deliberately. They quoted just Rs 7,490 as the highest price for the top-quality cotton brought by me. I refused to sell my produce. If they do not raise the price, I will take the produce to some other mandi and try to sell it there.”
In Mansa district, private players have even bought cotton for as low as Rs 5,200 per quintal which is way below than MSP of Rs 5,925 fixed for this year. Alleging arbitrary approach of private players, cotton growers staged protests in some villages and raised slogans.
A senior official of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) said there was certainly a decline in the prices of cotton being procured by private players. He said private players had unanimously formed a ‘pool’ and decided they would not be quoting a higher price than a fixed limit of even the top-quality cotton. Gora Singh Bhaini Bagha, a leader of the BKU Dakaunda in Mansa district, said, “How is it possible that good quality cotton was fetching Rs 8,500 to even Rs 9,400 per quintal just a few days ago and now suddenly the prices have dropped? Cotton growers have already suffered losses due to the pest attack and untimely rain. If they are not provided remunerative prices for their produce, we will start an indefinite agitation soon.”
Cotton procurement picks up in Odisha
Procurement of cotton under minimum support price (MSP) operations has increased in Odisha. In 2018-19, only 6% of cotton was procured under the MSP operations, but it is 41% in 2020-21. Union minister of state for textiles Darshana Jardosh said. The state was producing four lakh cotton bales in 2018-19, but only 0.25 lakh cotton bales were procured under MSP operations in that yer, by spending Rs 70.78 crore. It was 6% of the total production.
In 2019-20, around 1.61 lakh bales were procured under MSP operations against the production of four lakh bales, 40% of the total production. In 2020-21, 205 lakh bales (41%) of Rs 621.8 crore have been procured against the production of 4.99 lakh bales, officials stated. Only 5000 farmers were getting MSP in 2018-19, but this number has increased to 40,000 in 2021-21, said the minister.