Cotton growers in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka are expected to be hit due to a deficit monsoon. If there is no rain in the next 10 days, a drought-like situation might come about.
Most farmers have preferred to replicate last year’s area under cotton, despite prices last year falling sharply. Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has done its biggest intervention by procuring about nine million bales (a bale is 170 kg) so far this year. The cotton season ends on September 30 and the new one begins on October 1.
With a 10 per cent fall in sowing and a deficit in rain-fed states, experts estimate a crop of 35 mn bales for 2015-16 (though CCCI estimates 37 mn). This depicts a trend of output decline, from 40.73 mn bales in 2013-14 to an estimated 38 mn in 2014-15 and 35-37 mn in 2015-16.
Prices have firmed up by Rs 1,000 a candy ( 356 kg) in the past three weeks. Prices have spiralled as traders are liquidating less stock in anticipation of late crop arrival. The benchmark Shankar-6 variety is trading at Rs 35,500 a candy, having risen by three per cent in three weeks.
Pradeep Jain, president of the Cotton Ginning and Pressing Factories Association, Jalgaon (Maharashtra), said prospects of more rain are bleak. A farmer gets 10-12 quintals an acre in ideal condition, he said, and might get about eight quintals an acre this year. Against the estimated arrivals of 7.5 mn bales last year, we might get about 4.5 mn bales this year, he said of the state.
Marathwada and Khandesh in Maharashtra are worst affected, he said and Vidarbha by relatively less, he added. Harvesting might also get delayed here by a fortnight, as insufficient rain slows growth of the plant.
Arrivals in Gujarat might be 8.5-9 mn bales, against 10.8 mn in the current year. Dilipbhai Patel, president of the All Gujarat Ginners’ Association, said the irrigated areas of north Gujarat might not be affected by much but Saurashtra would see a drop in production.
White fly infestation has hit the growing areas of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The irrigated cotton belt of this region is expected to lose a tenth of the crop, said Bhagwan Bansal of the Punjab Ginning Millers’ Association.
Telangana and Andhra have been steady with their crop, having got sufficient rain. A mild shower in next week might ensure a good crop.
CCI has a stock of 2.5 million bales and is expected to have an opening stock of a million bales on October 1.