The cotton sowing area in Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan is projected to decline this year

Cotton in Haryana

The cotton sowing area is anticipated to see a reduction in Punjab and Rajasthan. Sources say the reduction could be as lower as 25% this year compared to the last year. Haryana is expected to see the shrinkage in cotton sowing area, as well. This could be slated to unappealing market prices and rising pest problems. Particularly in Punjab, the land dedicated to cotton has shrunk by 46% compared to last year, failing to meet even the revised, lower cultivation targets set by the agriculture department.

The shift away from cotton cultivation is driven by challenges such as pest infestations, including white fly and pink bollworm, and issues with low-quality seeds. Furthermore, dissatisfaction is growing among farmers because the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) only procures a limited quantity of cotton, often leading to sales below the minimum support price (MSP).

The MSP for medium staple cotton currently stands at Rs 6,620 per quintal and Rs 7,020 for long staple. However, a substantial portion of the crop is bought by private buyers at prices below the MSP. According to the Indian Cotton Federation, cotton prices in India are currently 5% to 7% higher than international levels, but this does not translate into sufficient profits for farmers, highlighting the need for better quality seeds to boost yields and improve financial returns.

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The challenges faced by the cotton industry in recent years, including pest attacks, erratic weather, and disappointing yields, have severely affected the earnings of farmers, often fetching prices well below the MSP. For the upcoming 2023-2024 cotton season, production is expected to stabilize at around 320 lakh bales, with textile mills operating at about 75% capacity. It is crucial for the government to ensure that raw material prices remain stable and affordable to sustain the textile industry.

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