M. Soundariya Preetha

Cheaper raw materials for textile units

COIMBATORE: The district administration is planning to increase cotton and maize production in Coimbatore, a hub of textile units and poultry farms.

Both the sectors buy raw material cotton (textiles) and maize (used in poultry feed) from other States, paying a higher price.

Contract farming of cotton is familiar, but maize is yet to catch up with the concept, says an official of the Agricultural Department.

The department is trying to facilitate an agreement between the maize growers and poultry farmers. The district has 20,000 hectares under maize (2005-2006). The official says the poultry sector is now buying maize mainly from Karnataka and pays at least Rs. 2 more a kg. A committee of maize farmers and broiler growers is likely to be formed soon.

The district is estimated to have 6,000 hectares under cotton, nearly 10 per cent under contract farming. The area can be increased at least by 50 per cent in the first phase. A core committee with representatives of the industry, the cotton trade and the district administration has been formed to increase production, mainly through contract farming.

"We have lost a lot of area once under cotton either to other crops or to nothing," says K. Viswanathan, secretary of the South India Cotton Association. If the cotton cultivation is revived, the employment potential in rural areas will go up. The core committee will draft a plan soon, as "something can be done with a co-ordinated effort." New areas that can be brought under cotton will also be explored, he says.