Despite a bumper production this year, cotton farmers of Gujarat have been left in the lurch. Around 12 million bales of cotton are lying unused in the state, their quality deteriorating by the day in the hot sun.
Currently, millions of bales are lying outside the marketing yards at Jasdan, Gondal, Padadhari, Prantij, Bodeli, Botad and other places.
The cotton has no buyers, thanks to the Centre not allowing export of cotton. And the Central government's nodal agency - Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) - has also been unable to purchase the entire stock, which could have been used as buffer stock.
"It is a time of unprecedented crisis for the state's cotton farmers," said agriculture minister Dilip Sanghani. "The Central government is forcing them to sell cotton at a cheaper rate by not allowing export."
The CCI stopped purchasing five days ago, creating a huge glut in the market, he said. The Centre had announced that the CCI would purchase cotton to create a buffer stock of 25 lakh bales. "The cost was to be R4,500 per quintal. But no purchase is happening," he said.
In 2011-12, nearly 3 million hectares were under cotton cultivation in Gujarat. The estimated production was close to 120 lakh bales - one-third of the country's total of 368 lakh bales.
The previous year, cotton production in the state stood at 98 lakh bales from a 26-lakh-hectare area.
"Gujarat's own consumption is hardly 15 lakh bales, since there are only 6 lakh looms in the state," said a senior official of the state agriculture department. Tamil Nadu, in comparison, has 150 lakh looms. "Under the circumstances, our farmers have to rely only on direct export or purchase by the CCI," he said. If the CCI does not buy the stock, the quality of the cotton will deteriorate, which, in turn, will affect prices.
"We want the CCI to buy the cotton at the support price announced by the Central government, otherwise the
farmers will launch a statewide agitation against the Centre," said Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Bharat Boghra.