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Maharashtra gears up for new kharif season with 2.25-crore BT cotton seed packs

Nanda Kasabe
cotton, cotton industry, cotton sector

As the BT variety continues to account for over 96% of cotton crop in the country, the Maharashtra government has managed to supply at least 2.25 crore packs of BT cotton seeds to farmers this kharif.

Though fears are being expressed about farmers possibly shifting to soyabean and maize as options, the state government has planned for a possible kharif crop of 40-41 lakh hectares. Experts said farmers had been getting good prices and therefore crop estimates for the new season may be retained.

The Cotton Association of India (CAI ) had trimmed the crop estimate for the fibre crop to 321 lakh bales (170 kg each), which is about 7 lakh bales lower than its previous month s estimate last month. The crop is likely to be the lowest since the 305 lakh bales recorded in 2009-10 (as per Cotton Advisory Board estimates).

The main reason for reduction in cotton crop during this year is the scarcity of water in some states and the fact that farmers uprooted their cotton plants in about 70-80% area without waiting for the third and fourth pickings.

According to MG Shembekar, member, National Seeds Association of India, cotton prices have been high this season and the Pink Bollworm situation had been also contained to a great extent in Maharashtra and therefore the crop position is expected to be good this kharif as well.

According to officials in the agriculture department, seed companies are in a position to supply around 2.25-crore packs of BT cotton seeds to farmers this kharif.

Normally, cotton is cultivated on 41 lakh hectares every season. Last year, the appearance of the Pink Bollworm led to a scare but awareness increased among farmers who took measures to curb the menace, officials said. Normally around 1.80-crore packs of seed are required by farmers every year but the department has improved the seed supply position and has ensured that 40-50 lakh additional packs are available to farmers.

With cotton prices rising sharply in March and April 2019, the Indian Cotton Federation (ICF) has submitted a memo to textile commissioner Sanjay Sharan, seeking a stop to the panic in the market that has led to the rise in prices. The industry has urged the government to come out with its own official production estimate to clear the ambiguity caused by differences in estimates from the CAI, which represents traders, and the ICF, which represents consumers. ICF said the cotton supply was comfortable and therefore measures should be taken avoid panic.