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Good returns from cotton may affect other crops

B. Chandrashekhar

Officials worried that more farmers may go in for cotton instead of pulses and other crops


As against a minimum support price of Rs. 3,000, cotton fetched Rs. 4,000-6,000 in 2010-11

Agriculture department concerned that there could be a repeat of shortage of pulses


HYDERABAD: Farmers, who cultivated cotton in the last agriculture season (2010-11) in the State may be a happy lot with the white gold, as the cotton is fondly known, as prices are prevailing at an all-time high, but the Agriculture Department officials are a worried lot over fears that the extent of coverage may shoot up and affect pulses and other crops.

Handsome returns this year are likely to encourage farmers to step up cotton cultivation. They secured prices ranging anywhere between Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 6,000 a quintal against the minimum support price of Rs. 3,000. Increase in the input costs and other overheads like inter-cultivation and harvesting charges were well taken care of by the good price.

According to the Agriculture Department authorities, cotton crop, mostly Bt-cotton, was cultivated in about 17.39 lakh hectares in 2010-11 and there was 37.92 lakh tonnes of production.

“Crop loss in countries like China and Pakistan and worldwide increase in the demand for cotton have helped farmers get the best ever price this year”, an official said.

But, their worry is that there could be a repeat of the countrywide shortage of pulses recorded a few years ago and have political ramifications.

Area of cultivation

Cotton was cultivated over an extent of just 14.74 lakh ha in 2009-10 and the good rains had added to the higher coverage of the crop.

Similarly, pulses were cultivated in 10.52 lakh ha in 2010-11 with a production of 16.17 lakh tonnes and it was just 7.6 lakh ha and 14.32 lakh tonnes in 2009-10.

On the other hand, the farming community is also concerned over a likely hike in Bt-cotton seed prices as Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar was learnt to have written to Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy recently asking him to allow the seed companies to hike the prices. Besides, they have fears of falling yields from Bt-cotton.

“There was only 3 quintals yield per acre this year in Bt-cotton against 10 quintals in the previous years. High pesticide use is also creating labour problem as they are not willing to work due to fear of health problems”, said Bandi Sulochana of Malakapeta village in Warangal district.

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