Cotton farmers are a happy lot, at least at the beginning of kharif this year, as they are able to purchase Bt cotton seeds much below the prescribed retail price. An ongoing war between Bt cotton seed manufacturing companies has flooded the market with different brands of seeds which has brought about the downfall in the price from the Rs. 930 to between Rs. 800 and Rs. 850 per packet weighing 450 grams.
According to insiders, Bt seed manufacturers have flooded the market with their popular products like Brahma, Mallika, Bunny etc to take care of the competition put up by a plethora of smaller companies that have sprung up lately. “At least 50 new companies have released their product into the market this season,” says Chitikesh Narsaiah, a leading cotton commission agent who is also licenced to supply seeds and fertilizers in Adilabad.
“The usual shortage of Bt cotton seed here will not be experienced this year also because the area under cotton cultivation will be reduced drastically. “Farmers in the major cotton producing mandals like Jainad, Bela, Boath, Bazarhatnoor, Ichoda, Koutala, Sirpur (T), Kagaznagar, Dahegaon, Asifabad, Wankidi etc are likely to opt for soyabean this year,” Mr. Narsaiah opines.
According to independent estimates, the normal cotton area of 3.5 lakh hectares will be reduced by more than 50,000 hectares while the normal area under soyabean cultivation can go up by a similar extent to reach 1.75 lakh hectares. Only those farmers who are dependant on rainfall and are helpless owing to old debts will continue with cultivating cotton, say observers.
“The government had proposed an increase of only Rs. 100 over the maximum support price of Rs. 3,900 per quintal of cotton while it has increased the MSP for soyabean by Rs. 350 per quintal to Rs. 2,530. While cotton commanded good price at the fag end of the season soyabean brought handsome returns almost all through the season gone by,” says Addi Ramchander Reddy, another cotton commission agent, as he forwards reasons for decrease in cotton area.
The trend in availability of Bt cotton seed or reduction of area under cotton cultivation is not restricted to Adilabad district alone. Mr. Narsaiah says it can be seen across Telangana region and also in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of neighbouring Maharashtra.