NAGPUR: The state government has managed to keep its word of starting cotton purchases at minimum support price (MSP) from November 15 onwards. However, it may not bring succour to farmers who have suffered a double whammy of poor yield due to dry spell and plummeting rates. Cotton farming has been traditionally linked to Vidarbha’s agrarian crisis. To recover their expenses, farmers need a rate of at least Rs 6000 a quintal. This time, with elections over there is no political demand to raise the MSP that is rather low.
The peak MSP of cotton is Rs 4050 a quintal with the rate coming down to Rs 3850 for lower grades. Growers are worried that the dry spell may have hampered the quality of produce which may not fit into criterion and they may have to accept a price below Rs 4050 a quintal. Arranging for MSP purchases was a tough affair for the state. After the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), expressed its inability saying it had no funds, government tied up with cash-rich Cotton Corporation of India (CCI). This is a commercial organization under the ministry of textiles. NAFED is the agency that normally carries out MSP operations.
NP Hirani, chairman, Maharashtra State Cotton Growers Marketing Federation, said initially there would be 27 centres with preparations to raise the number to 100 as arrivals increase. The state has provided federation with Rs 30 crore on the basis of which it will get a bank guarantee of Rs 120 crore to start procurement initially. Further purchases will begin as and when CCI makes payments for the cotton it buys from the federation.
Hirani accepted that the current MSP was not enough and the federation had passed a resolution asking for a MSP of Rs 6,000 a quintal at least as the cultivators incur a cost of as much as Rs 5,550 a quintal for growing cotton. Shikhar Joshi, a farmer from Pandharkavda, said the yield of both soyabean and cotton, the two main cash crops of the region, has come down by 50 per cent. As against an investment of Rs 2 lakh in his 20 acre farm, his income may not be more than Rs 1.30 lakh, he claimed.
Vijay Jawandhiya, a veteran farmer leader, said the Centre or state government should announce an additional subsidy of Rs 2,000 a quintal for farmers to make cotton growing viable.
– India Times