Punjab has registered a record production of cotton at 43.25 lakh quintals in 2019-20 season even as the procurement of the crop is still in its last stage. According to the data procured from the Punjab State Agricultural Marketing Board, the state has witnessed a jump of over 26% over the production of 34.68 lakh quintals recorded during the 2018-19 season. Officials said cotton is generally purchased till the end of June but due to lockdown, the arrival of the cash crop is expected to culminate by May 15.
“While the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) continues purchase in the cotton-growing districts at the MSP (minimum support price), lockdown restrictions have kept the private players at bay from the market.
But before the lockdown, private buyers were paying farmers less than the MSP,” said state cotton coordinator Rajnish Goel. He said of the total produce, the CCI purchased 16.74 lakh quintals at MSP of Rs 5,450 per quintal whereas the private buyers had bought 26.50 lakh quintals from farmers in the cotton-growing south Malwa belt. State agriculture secretary KS Pannu credits farmers for the record production, saying they followed the advisories issued by the Punjab Agricultural University & state authorities. He said 2019-20 was the best year for the traditional crop of cotton as there was no pest attack.
He said the integrated pest management plan significantly reduced cost of production by replacing chemical sprays with neem-based bio-pesticides to handle whitefly pest. The average per acre yield reached close to 800 kg lint per hectare this time, said Pannu. As per official data, cotton yield in 2015 had dropped to a low of 197 kg lint per hectare due to the whitefly attack. The crop yield was 756 kg in 2016, 750 kg in 2017 & 778kg in 2018. “The overall production of cotton is on the expected lines and we hope that it would touch 44 lakh quintals in the next few days. The record production and organised crop management will encourage farmers to switch over to the traditional crop in the semi-arid southern part of Punjab,” he added. State agriculture director Sutantar Kumar Airi said that after a delay of about a week due to the Covid-19 outbreak, cotton sowing has gained pace and it will be completed by the end of May. “We will chalk out a cotton purchase plan for the next season with the CCI on the basis of the total area finally covered under cotton.
Besides the availability of seeds and fertilisers to farmers, the agriculture department has planned to ensure required canal water amid Covid-19 crisis,” said Airi.
The department is planning to bring 5.5 lakh hectares under cotton cultivation this year, an increase of 1.5 lakh hectares over the last year, said Airi.