Weather plays spoilsport with cotton in Haryana, Punjab


Adverse weather conditions coupled with better price for guar seed forcing traditional cotton farmers to abandon cotton farming

The consistent dry and extreme hot weather in the states of Punjab and Haryana might affect the yield of cotton this year. The pre-monsoon showers that give strength and vigour to the crop skipped the area this season. The farmers are worried that the hot wind (loo) blowing may burn the cotton plants.

 The scientists at the Central Institute of Cotton Research at Sirsa confirmed that the cotton seed is vulnerable to high temperature. They added that the farmers may have to sow the seeds again if the plants burn due to excessive heat.

Jagtar Singh Mehma, a farmer from Bhatinda in Punjab said the hot wind carries sand particles and this is harmful for the tender cotton plant.

“Natutal showers are imperative as excess irrigation may result in compacting of cotton flower”, he added.

The cotton sowing has been delayed this year due to stretched harvesting of wheat. About three-fourth of area has been sown in north India.

As per agriculture officials in Haryana, cotton sowing has touched 3.70 lakh hectares. The area in the corresponding period last year was around 4.50 lakh hectares.

Agriculture officials are expecting a 15 per cent decline in overall cotton acreage this season. The decline in cotton acreage is because of farmers switching their options to other remunerative kharif crops like guar.

Even as Governemnt of India(GoI) allowed exports of cotton bales from May this year, it has failed to influence the farmers who have already planned a switch over.

Haryana is targeting 6 lakh hectares under cotton this year, compared to 6.03 lakh hectare achieved last year. Punjab is eyeing 5 lakh hectare area compared to 5.60 lakh hectare area achieved last year.

Agriculture officials in Haryana, however, says the final area under cotton this year would remain close to 5.25 lakh hectares, a 12.5 per cent decline in overall area under cotton.

Owing to decline in acreage, production of cotton bales is also anticipated to slide down. Traders are saying that production of cotton in Punjab and Haryana is expected to be around 40 lakh bales compared to 55 lakh bales last year. Cotton farmers in some parts of Haryana may prefer sowing guar seed over cotton.

Prices fetched by cotton farmer last year were not as per expectations and ranged between Rs 3,000- 4,000 per quintal compared to Rs 7000 per quintal reachedthe previous year. Prices of guar seed, on the other hand, has increased from Rs 60 per kg last (Rs 6,000 per quintal) last year to Rs 300 per kg (Rs 30,000 per quintal) this year.

States including Haryana and Punjab which normally had been contributing around 40 lakh bales (1 bale=170kg) of cotton, last year had production close to 55 lakh bales(including some areas of Rajasthan).