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CCI to procure one million bales of cotton from poll bound Gujarat

CMD Mishra takes stock of the procurement process at cotton markets, senior ministry official joins him on visit to Rajkot

BS Reporters  |  Rajkot/ Ahmedabad 

At a strategic meet held between officials from union textile ministry and Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) it was decided to procure one million bales (170 kg each) of cotton from the state, mainly from Saurashtra region. Textile ministry has decided to create a buffer stock for country's textile industry and mandated CCI to procure cotton at the rate of Rs 900 per maund (20 kg) for top quality cotton.

"We are creating a buffer stock of cotton for domestic textile industry and CCI has decided to procure one million bales of cotton from Gujarat particularly from Saurashtra area as it supplies the best quality cotton and have more than sufficient stocks with farmers," informed V Srinivas, joint secretary - cotton division and TUFS, ministry of textiles, Government of India after the meeting of top government officials held in Rajkot on Friday.

The meeting was attended by B K Mishra, chairman and managing director, CCI and other top officials and vigilance head from CCI.

CCI started cotton procurement from March 31, 2012 and so far it has purchased about 110,000 bales of cotton from Gujarat. Out of this, about 57,000 bales of cotton has been procured from Rajkot and other parts of Saurashtra, a CCI official informed. CCI has opened 33 procurement centers in Saurashtra. According to Srinivas, about 2.5 million bales of cotton are with farmers of Gujarat.

However, there were some disputes between the CCI and farmers over issues like procurement prices and cotton quality, which had led CCI to temporarily discontinue the procurement in Saurashtra.

According to sources at CCI, some farmers had sold inferior quality of cotton at the rate of which top quality is being procured, i.e. Rs 4500 a quintal.

A farmer based at Jasdan said, "Some powerful farmers that have political background are selling lower grade cotton to the CCI and some CCI local officers also supporting them and procure lower grade cotton on higher price."

A cotton trader in Padadhri, near Rajkot, informed that CCI gave attractive price, which was above the prevailing market prices. "They (CCI) were buying at Rs 40-50 more than the prevailing market prices for a quintal of cotton. This was lucrative for all the farmers, hence they flocked to the But suddenly after a couple of days of procurement, CCI stopped buying at these prices," he said.

For the inferior quality cotton CCI had denied to give high prices. This led to sharp reaction from farmers. Currently, CCI is giving Rs 900 per 20 kg for best quality cotton and Rs 800-850 for lower grade cotton.

However, according to CCI sources, it continued to purchase cotton through its commercial operations - purchasing cotton at market prices.

The CCI had sighted 'economically non-viable price' as a reason for discontinuation of cotton purchases at Rs 4,500 a quintal, which it paid only for a couple of days to Gujarat farmers.

The CCI CMD visited Rajkot on Friday and monitored procurement process at Jasdan market in the district.

"We have started procurement from this region as per government direction, however government has not fix any target for this year," said Mishra on his visit to Rajkot.

Member of parliament from Rajkot and Porbandar, Kunvarji Bavaliya and Viththal Radadiya had met the CCI officials and discussed issues relating to cotton procurement and farmers dissatisfaction. A few days back Bavaliya had also raised the matter with the union textiles minister Anand Sharma.

"We informed CCI top official about these issues and they assured us to look after the matter," said Bavaliya.

Higher purchases by CCI had strengthened cotton prices in the last week. According to Cotton Association of India (CAI) data, price of Shankar-6 variety was quoted in the range of Rs 34,000 - 35,200 a candy (356 kg each) on April 8. On Friday, cotton prices were ruling weak, in the range of Rs 33,500 to Rs 33,800 a candy.

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First Published: Sat, April 14 2012. 00:11 IST