Govt’s plan to restrict cotton cultivation may fall through

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Farmers are in favour of cotton as it can withstanddry spell better than other kharif crops, says official

Delay in monsoon and issuance/renewal of crop loans by banks are likely to impact the State government’s plans of restricting cotton cultivation in the ongoing kharif to about 23 per cent, of the total extent of projected area of cultivation, against the total cropped area of over 47 per cent in the last kharif.

The State government had decided to discourage cotton cultivation from this year onwards, keeping in view the Centre’s decision to increase tax on cotton exports following signing of the WTO document recently. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had suggested farmers to focus on cultivating alternative cash crops since cotton cultivation was likely to face crisis.

In tune with that decision, the projected area of cotton cultivation was brought down to 10.64 lakh hectares this kharif from 16.97 lakh hectares last year. Introduction of Bt cotton seed that has reduced expenditure on crop management and increased production in the recent years made the farming community go for cotton cultivation in spite of drought conditions.

On the other hand, losses in cotton cultivation have resulted in most of the farmers’ suicides in the recent years. “Yet, farmers are weighing in favour of cotton as it can withstand dry spells better than other kharif crops and it gives a couple of pickings with regeneration after rains. There’s no such guarantee in case of other crops,” a senior Agriculture Department official reasoned while talking to The Hindu . “Several farmers in our village have sown cotton with the help of pre-monsoon rains already. Its cultivation has proved more economical than any other kharif crop as it has no expenditure till picking (harvesting) on crop management,” S. Manik Rao, a farmer of Vankdal village in Kangti mandal of Medak district said.

The delay in renewal/issuance of crop loans as banks are waiting for payment of the third instalment of the crop loan waiver by the State government is also likely to push up cotton cultivation. “In such circumstances, the farmers will approach private lenders,” the official said, admitting that most of the cotton seed sellers have understanding with the private lenders to finance cotton cultivation.

Another factor that is likely to increase cotton cultivation beyond the government’s plans is its advantage in late sowing, till the end of July third-week.

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