The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast this year's monsoon, like last year's, to be normal. But, despite being a normal monsoon in terms of the long-period average (LPA), distribution remained a worry last year. While the middle, northern and eastern parts of India received above normal rainfall, the western and southern parts remained deficient. Experts have started fearing a repeat of last year, with reports of deficient rainfall in large cotton-growing regions.
Farmers' fears of lower yields this year assume significance as they had achieved record productivity and got better prices last year despite lower acreage. Encouraged by last year's realisation, farmers have slowed down the speed of cotton sowing after over 50 per cent increase in acreage early this season.
"While the Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) is likely to come out with cotton output forecast, we are estimating 10 per cent increase in acreage with an output of 350 lakh (35 million) bales this year," said Kavita Gupta, Textiles Commissioner, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, on the sidelines of 65th National Garment Fair here on Monday.
|Stagnating Cotton yield despite increase in area|
|Crop year (Oct-Sept)||Area (lakh ha)||Output (lakh bales)||Yield (kg/ha)|
|Source: Cotton Advisory Board, Cotton Corporation of India; 1 bale=170 kg|
Arun Dalal, a large city-based cotton trader and exporter, said, "The crop is projected to get delayed by at least a month and the yield prospect also seems to get affected due to a delay in sowing. Strong enquiries have been reported from the northern region, though a delay in upcoming crop may prompt immediate bargains. The demand of cotton has been good. Therefore, cotton prices may rise further and may sustain the prevailing range of Rs 42,500-44,500 a tonne.
Meanwhile, private weather forecasting agency Skymet had reported a four per cent surplus rainfall in June. But, it has forecast July to remain rainfall-deficient. "Rains over most parts of interior Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, interior Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will remain subdued for the next 4-5 days. Gujarat, Rajasthan and western parts of Haryana and west Madhya Pradesh will also see scanty rains only," Skymet said in its latest report
Meanwhile, data compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture showed sowing area under cotton rose marginally to 7.2 million hectare (ha) by July 7 compared to 6.8 million ha by the same time last year.
"Rainfall during July and August are crucial for Indian agriculture. Hence, we will have to wait until the end of August before making any firm assessment on agricultural output this kharif season," said Madan Sabnavis, Chief Economist, Care Ratings.
Fears of started mounting in for re-sowing of cotton seeds in the areas where rainfalls remained deficient so far this season and crops damaged thereupon.
Meanwhile, farmers have increased sowing of cotton. During most period of last year, cotton prices remained above the minimum support price (MSP) unlike the case of oilseeds and pulses which continued to trade below the MSP almost throughout the season. Prompted by last year's realization, farmers have increased their cotton sowing area by a staggering 45 per cent so far this season.
Data compiled by the Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) under the Ministry of Textiles showed India's cotton yield at a record high last year at 568 kgs per ha compared to 484 kgs per ha for the previous year due to favourable climatic condition. The yield, however, remained abysmally higher than that of 566 kgs per ha received in 2013-14.
Cotton yield stagnates despite increase in area
Crop year (Oct - Sept) Area (lakh ha) Output (lakh bales) Yield (kg / ha)
2010-11 111.42 339 517
2011-12 121.78 367 512
2012-13 119.78 370 525
2013-14 119.6 398 566
2014-15 128.46 386 511
2015-16 118.77 338 484
2016-17 105 351 568
2017-18 - 350 -