Finally, there is good news for whitefly-hit cotton farmers. The ‘white gold’ is fetching them Rs 4,500-4,800 per quintal during the ongoing procurement higher than the minimum support price (MSP). During the previous season, farmers were getting less than Rs 4,300 per quintal.
After the end of paddy procurement, cotton arrivals have started picking up across grain markets in the districts of Bathinda, Muktsar, Fazilka, Moga, Faridkot and Ferozepur.
As per the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), 2.5 lakh bales (every bale weighs 140 kg) have reached cotton markets in the Malwa region so far.
The whitefly attack had caused cotton production to go down by 40% this year, but the remunerative prices may help farmers cover their losses to some extent.
Against the production of around 13 lakh bales last season, the CCI is expecting around 6.5-7.5 lakh bales this season. More than 3 lakh hectares of the area under cotton cultivation was hit by the pest attack.
“Better prices have brought much-needed relief to cotton farmers,” said Bikkar Singh, a local farmer.
Sadhu Singh, a market committee official, said: “Though production has come down, there has been no damage to the quality of cotton. It is the right time for growers to bring their yield to markets so as to get decent prices.”
CCI yet to step in
With farmers already getting higher than the MSP for their produce, the CCI is yet to start cotton procurement this season.
CCI general manager AK Srivastava said private traders were purchasing cotton brought to the markets. “The CCI will start procurement only if prices fall below the MSP,” Srivastava said.
Cotton MSP (per quintal)
Medium staple: Rs 3,800
Long staple: Rs 4,100