Taking a cue from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Pradesh Congress Committee president Arjun Modhvadia on Sunday requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to permit the export of at least 15 lakh bales of cotton in an effort to arrest the dampening price.
Mr. Modi, last week, written a similar letter to Dr. Singh, demanding that a cotton export quota of 10 lakh bales be allocated to the State.
Last year, cotton production in the country was to the tune of 300 lakh bales, out of which the export of 85 lakh bales had been permitted by the Centre, whereas this year, Mr. Modhvadia pointed out, while the production had gone up to about 310 lakh bales, only about 55 lakh bales had been exported.
Reminding the Prime Minister of the coming monsoon, Mr. Modhvadia said unless a quick decision was taken, the cotton crop would go to waste in the open fields once the monsoon set in. Even after taking care of domestic needs, at least 15 lakh bales of cotton could safely be allowed to be exported to save the cotton growers from going for distress sale, he said.
Mr. Modhvadia claimed that while during the National Democratic Alliance regime the cotton growers in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat were driven to suicide, the agriculturists were largely benefited by the United Progressive Alliance government's pro-farmer policies. The cotton prices went up from about Rs.250 per bale to about Rs.1,500 in the last five years, but due to the bumper production this year and the cap on export, the prices in the last two months declined to about Rs.900, causing severe strain on the cotton-growers, he said. The issue was particularly causing concern to the people of the Gujarat since its share of the country's total cotton production was more than 40 per cent.
The GPCC president admitted that the Centre might be feeling concerned about the BJP's agitation against the rising trend of prices, but said it needed to ignore the agitation and ensure better returns to the agricultural produces in the larger interest of the farmers.
Keywords: cotton exports