India: States plan to promote cotton output


With funds for cotton from the central government shrinking, some of the cotton producing states are devising schemes to promote production of the commodity.

States like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Haryana have either launched separate schemes or have joined hands with private companies to boost the area under production.

 The Central annual allocation for the technical mission on cotton now hovers around Rs 12-15 crore against an allocation of Rs 60-70 crore earlier. Official sources say the government is in the process of winding up the mission.

“The centre will focus on areas of national importance, mostly from the point of view of high-end agriculture and food security,” said official sources.

Gujarat, where cotton is one of the major commercial crops, for instance, has launched a separate project called “intensive project for distribution of Bt cotton seeds with micro nutrients” for 2012-13. “The project is run with funds from the state and the centre. It is aimed at developing the crop intensity per area rather than increasing the overall acreage,” said a state government official.

Maharashtra, meanwhile, has adopted the the public-private partnership mode for all major commercial crops like oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane. Under this mode, funds have been pooled in from the state, centre (Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana), private companies and farmers. The farmers will pay a subsidised rate for utilities like seed distribution and drip irrigation, among others.

Haryana, on the other hand, has launched a state-specific technical mission on cotton fearing discontinuation of the present central government sponsored mission. According to officials, this will be the first time a state has gone ahead with a state-sponsored technical mission for a crop.

In fact, Punjab and Haryana have shifted focus on cotton and sunflower as commercial crops, since the soil productivity of these states for rice and wheat has been declining. Moreover, for food crops, the focus of the central government has shifted to the eastern region where the states are being given incentives to increase food crop production as part of the second green revolution in eastern India.

According to the latest data from the Union ministry of agriculture, cotton sowing across the country at the start of the kharif season for 2012-13 has taken a beating. It has fallen to 1.3 million hectares, down 200,000 hectares from 1.5 million hectares in the previous year.

To cope with the decline in sowing, the government is looking to increase production per unit area rather than increase the absolute area of cotton production.

Taking a cue from Brazil, India is aiming at high density planting with a target production per unit area of 550 kg/hectare.

In collaboration with the government of Maharastra, a pilot project in this regard has already been launched in Nagpur.