Farmers Reluctant To Grow Cotton, Dept Lowers Target

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After falling short by over 25% last year, the Punjab Agriculture Department has set a target area of 3 lakh hectares for cotton cultivation in the state this year. The area under cotton had touched 2.84 lakh hectares last year as against the target area of 4 lakh hectares.

Experts attribute the shortfall to various factors like canal water shortage in the sowing season, constant threat of diseases to the crop, lack of remunerative prices and no purchase by government agencies. Ashok Kapur, former president, North India Cotton Association, said, “The cotton prices have crossed the Rs 6,000 per quintal mark at the fag end of the season, which is benefitting only a small section of farmers who had the holding capacity. A vast majority of the farmers sold their produce when the prices were hovering between Rs 5,000 and Rs 5,500 per quintal. The farmers expect better yield and prices every year. However, they get disillusioned when the prices don’t increase in proportion to their input costs.”

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Farm experts also feel that farmers no more see cotton as a “paying crop”, as it is fraught with the risk of pest attacks and rate variation. Besides, it is highly dependent on the weather conditions. They say there is every possibility that a section of cotton farmers may shift to basmati, which recorded a good yield and fetched remunerative prices last year. They say they have even appealed to the farmers not to go for basmati in large numbers, as the move may backfire too.

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