This Diwali has not been a happy one for cotton growers in Amritsar. Even as prices appear to be reasonably good at around Rs. 5,000 a quintal, their returns have been hit as more than 30% of the crop, ready for maturity, has been damaged by the heavy rains in August this year, government data shows.
"Of the 92,000 hectares under cotton crop in Muktsar, more than 29,000 hectares was damaged by the August rains," said Beant Singh, Muktsar chief agriculture officer.
For an acre of damaged crop, a farmer loses about Rs. 40,000.
"Farmers have lost heavily, as the crop that survived the floods has not yielded much. When it rained, the cotton crop was bearing flowers. These were damaged. The delayed flowering has not resulted into full blown cotton bolls. As there is winter ahead, the bolls will not bloom fully, resulting in loss of yield per acre," Beant Singh adds.
"Only 1,18, 396 quintal of cotton has arrived in markets this year, against the arrival of 1,59,361 quintal till date last year, around 40,965 quintal less than last year," said Kuldeep Singh Brar, Muktsar mandi officer.
He added that prices were high, at an average of Rs. 5,000 per quintal, more than Rs. 1,000 per quintal over last year. "The crop has fetched Rs. 5,000 per quintal in Muktsar," he added.
"Arrivals will dip by more than 50%. We are staring at a loss due to the floods," said Gagandeep Singh, a farmer from Muktsar village.
Cotton farmers stare at a loss in Faridkot also
"The area under the crop has remained similar to that last year, at around 18,000 hectares. However, untimely rains have to a cut in arrival by around 30%. The arrival has already dropped to 19,200 quintal from 22,300 quintal by October 31 last year," said Faridkot mandi officer Kulbir Singh Matta.
He added that a quintal was fetching Rs. 5,500 against Rs. 4,000 last year.