Punjab agriculture department is planning to add 50,000 hectares under cotton cultivation in Malwa. And the Telangana government is urging farmers to increase land under cotton cultivation. Robust demand and lucrative returns for cotton are the reasons. Punjab’s Malwa region will add 50,000 hectares under cotton cultivation this year, an increase of 10% over the current area of 5 lakh hectares. Sowing for the major cash crop in eight semi-arid districts of the region has started.
Experts say as farmers received good rates for their produce and global and domestic demand of raw cotton is increasing, more growers will be motivated to diversify towards the cash crop. If the state authorities manage to achieve the set target, it will be the highest since the 2010 season of 5.16 lakh hectares. State agriculture director Sukhdev Sidhu said, “Cotton sowing starts from April 1 and the department is planning to increase area under the traditional kharif crop. We have put all arrangements in place to meet the target and 25 lakh packets of seeds will be made available to farmers.”
While cotton sowing commences in the first week of April in the mustard-growing areas, the bulk is done after April 15 when wheat is harvested in the region. “In the wake of an incident of deadly pink bollworm in Bathinda last year that infested nearly 100-acre land, cotton ginning and pressing units, farmers have been instructed to follow the protocol to complete processing by March-end and destroy the waste immediately,” said Sidhu. Officials said the direct payment mode adopted by Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) was successful for the last two consecutive years under which more than Rs 2,000 crore, including Rs 1,525 crore in 2020-21, was paid to the cotton growers.
Paramjit Singh, director, Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) regional research station, Bathinda, said the first step will involve removing weeds like ‘kanghi buti’, ‘peeli buti’, ‘puth kanda’, ‘dhatura’ and ‘bhang’ that grow on field bunds, wasteland, roadsides and irrigation channels/ canals through community participation. “In the last two seasons, weed removal proved immensely beneficial in keeping the whitefly pest at bay. Coordinated efforts by agriculture scientists, extension teams and farmers resulted in a disease-free season in 2020. It will encourage farmers to go for cotton in a bigger way,” he added.
Mandi board cotton state coordinator Rajnish Goel said till March 17, at least 41 lakh quintal cotton was purchased and farmers were paid up to Rs 6,270 for a quintal, which is Rs 545 above the minimum support price (MSP). Goel said in 2020, the average yield was close to 833kg lint per hectare whereas it was recorded 800kg in 2019.
Telangana farmers urged to cultivate cotton on at least 80 lakh acres this monsoon
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has urged farmers in Telangana to cultivate cotton on 75 to 80 lakh acres in the monsoon season since cotton produced in the state commanded a good price in the international market. “Since cotton produced in the state is of high quality with high yield besides commanding a higher price as well, farmers should be ready to grow cotton on 75 to 80 lakh acre during the monsoon season,” the Chief Minister said, and directed Principal Secretary (Agriculture) Janardhan Reddy to make arrangements for procurement of cotton seed.
Ensure water to tail end lands
Chandrashekhar Rao also instructed the Water Resources Department Officials to ensure that water is supplied to lands under irrigation projects for another 10 days to ensure that crops don’t dry up. “Farmers from Suryapet district are complaining that tail-end lands are not getting water. Officials should ensure that water is supplied to tail-end lands. Not even a single acre should dry up due to lack of water,” he said.