The fall in cotton prices in Punjab due to crop damage on account of inclement weather has made farmers desperate. They are increasingly bringing their tractors for sale to the weekly Tractor Mandi of Talwandi Sabo, but not finding many buyers.
Ironically, farmers are selling — or not buying — tractors for similar reasons.
“Selling a tractor is much more difficult than selling a car. A car seller/buyer can be anybody, but one who buys or sells a tractor can only be a farmer.” said a farmer, Manjit Singh, who has been driving his tractor to Talwandi Sabo every Wednesday for the past three months.
He added, “I’m taking this drastic step after suffering cotton losses. I need money to meet other expenses, but there are few takers for my tractor.”
“Due to a dearth of buyers, the prices of the tractors have gone down,” he said.
Around 4.83 lakh hectares was under cotton cultivation in Punjab during 2010-11. During this period, cotton prices reached Rs 8,000 per quintal, encouraging farmers to increase the area under cotton to 5.6 lakh hectares in 2011-12. However the damage to the produce due to inclement weather and the sharp fall in crop prices hit the cotton belt hard.
Despite the rise of 80,000 hectares in area under cotton in the ongoing season, production has gone down. Till date, around 51 lakh quintals of cotton has come to the market, compared to nearly 56 lakh quintals in the previous season.
The total production of cotton in 2010-11 was 66 lakh quintals. In the current season, farmers had to spend more to save their crop from storms at the time of sowing and then from heavy rain near reaping time. However, cotton prices have barely touched Rs 4,600 per quintal.
“More and more farmers are coming to sell their tractors due to the fall in cotton prices, but there are not many buyers for the same reasons. We are hoping that the equation will change after the wheat crop comes to the market,” said Balkaran Singh, a commission agent who helps farmers sell tractors.