While cotton farmers in several States have demanded an increase in the minimum support price (MSP) of the crop, the Centre has said that it is “watching” the cotton production scenario and decide accordingly.
A senior official of the Union Textile Ministry told The Hindu that the domestic prices right now are higher than the MSP of cotton. “MSP operations will kick in if prices fall. At this point, it is not necessary. We are fully ready to come into MSP,” the official said, adding that the Cotton Corporation of India will also start procurement if the market is unable to ensure MSP for cotton.
The MSP for medium staple cotton for 2022-23 kharif season is ₹6,080. Though farmers said they got prices much higher than MSP for their produce, it was inadequate given the rise in price of input items such as seeds, pesticides and fertilisers.
For Praful Khandhadia, a cotton farmer from Rajkot, the fortunate absence of pink bollworm — a major menace — meant a comfortable production, he had to contend with other problems.
“The income from cotton was not good in the last four years. So I have not cultivated cotton on about 60% of my land. Sowing was less, but the production was good. The harvest is going on. It will be over by mid-February,” he said.
Mr. Khandhadia is able to get ₹8,500 per quintal at present. “It is higher than the MSP. Last March, some farmers got even ₹15,000 per quintal but the production was very less. Given the increased input cost, the MSP should be at least ₹10,000 per quintal. We are selling the crop for ₹8,500 because of our immediate household and farm requirements,” he said.
Harvest of cotton is over in Punjab. In Fazilka, a major cotton belt in Punjab, farmers are getting about ₹8,200 per quintal on average. “The production was just three quintals on average for an acre here. We used to get at least 15 quintals from one acre. We have been demanding compensation for cotton farmers. The seed-supplying companies are the major culprits for our losses. They should be held liable for supplying bad-quality seeds. Cotton is a cash crop for us. Our lives are dependent on this. But the companies are looting us,” Gurbhej Rohiwala, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) Fazilka district president, said.
In Maharashtra, some farmers have got as much as ₹12,000 per quintal, Ajit Nawale, All India Kisan Sabha’s Maharashtra secretary, said. However, some have had a low production because of the pink bollworm attack
“The prices are good because of the global situation. The import has decreased and that is the reason why farmers are getting good prices. We have been demanding that cotton import should be banned at any cost. Along with this, cotton seeds import should also be stopped. Cotton seeds too have good demand and price as it is used as cattle and poultry feed,” he said.