Rutam Vora / Ahmedabad Jun 04, 2011, 00:37
The country’s cotton acreage is expected to increase 5-10 per cent in 2011-12 from 11.16 million hectares in 2010-11. The rise is attributed to more farmers opting for the crop in the wake of record prices witnessed during the current cotton year (October to September).
This could be gauged from the fact that area under cotton in north India (Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana) for 2011-12 has witnessed a rise of 15-20 per cent so far. Sowing in these states is almost complete. The acreage in the states has increased by 200,000 hectares to 1.50-1.55 million hectares as on date, up from 1.35 million hectares in the previous year.
“The cotton sowing has almost come to an end in north India and we have seen a sharp increase in the acreage in Punjab. Rajasthan and Haryana, too, have seen some rise in acreage. Paddy and guar growing farmers have shifted to cotton, as it promised better returns,” said Rakesh Rathi, president, North India Cotton Association. North India contributes 12-13 per cent to the country’s total cotton output with annual production of 3.8-3.9 million bales (a bale is 170 kg).
Meanwhile, industry experts are expecting acreage to rise 5-10 per cent from 11.16 million hectares to around 15-18 million hectares for the year 2011-12.
“We see cotton acreage rising this year. Even after the recent volatility in prices, farmers are attracted towards cotton cultivation, mainly because they have reaped heavy returns over last year. However, it is too early to predict the exact acreage for 2011-12. But possibly the cotton area may rise 5-10 per cent from the last year’s 11.16 million hectares,” said B K Mishra, managing director, Cotton Corporation of India.
He added that prices had witnessed a sharp fall after hitting a peak in March this year.
Prices for the Shankar-6 quality of cotton had hit a peak of Rs 62,500 per candy (a candy = 356 kg) in March this year and dipped to Rs 45,000 per candy recently. In the international markets too, prices have seen sharp fluctuations from $ 2 per pound in March to $1.4-1.5 per pound recently.
India’s cotton acreage had increased by about eight per cent from 10.31 million hectares in 2009-10 to 11.16 million hectares in 2010-11.
In Gujarat, the area under cotton cultivation is expected to be 2.8 million hectares for the year 2011-12, against 2.63 million hectares in 2010-11.
“Farmers are excited about the returns that cotton has yielded. Like other parts of the country, Gujarat too will see a rise in acreage in the next season. The acreage in Gujarat for 2011-12 will rise to 2.8-3 million hectares,” said N M Sharma, managing director, Gujarat State Cooperative Cotton Federation.
Other key cotton growing states are Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and parts of Madhya Pradesh. The crop in this region is rain-fed and largely dependent on the extent of rainfall.
Cotton sowing in this region is expected to pick up from the second week of June onwards. As the south-west monsoon has already hit the southern part of the country and is expected to advance according to schedule, farmers have become hopeful for a successful cotton cultivation in 2011-12.