NAGPUR: With barely five months left for the end of its current procurement season, the Union government’s arm, Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), has finally decided to intervene and start aggressive procurement. “We have opened ten procurement centres each in Vidarbha and Marathwada from Friday. This has been done to protect farmers from traders, who could manipulate auctions at the APMCs,” said RC Sarkar, general manager of regional headquarters at Akola.
Talking to TOI, Sarkar said CCI would buy from farmers at the prevailing market rates and pay them through cheques. However, he said quality parameters would be strictly adhered to, and prices of different grades would be fixed accordingly. “On the first day, we got only ‘fartad’ (the second-third pickings) and rejected it. But we have information that at least 3 lakh bales of cotton, roughly 10% of the produce of the region, is still stocked with farmers hoping to get a better price in the wildly fluctuating market this year,” said Sarkar.
He said CCI had made all preparations at the start of the season in October last year to procure from farmers. But with open market rates ruling fairly high, farmers preferred that avenue and did not come to CCI. As a result, only 12,000 bales have been purchased from the region till date. However, market sources said there were fears that even after opening of exports the sentiment was dampened by reports that China was not interested in imports now, leading to decline in rates this week.
“Right now rates are stable between 3,600 and 4,000 a quintal, depending on quality. We are ready to pay that price,” said Sarkar. The CCI intervention is expected to arrest any downward trend induced by traders, who are known to influence auctions at the APMCs through their groups. In 2008-09, CCI had purchased a record 10 lakh bales from the region to protect farmers.