Despite recent floods in northern districts and subsequent damage to the standing crops, Karnataka, the sixth largest producer of cotton in the country, is likely to increase its cotton output this year by around 15 per cent to a little over one million bales (1 bale = 170 kgs). The state, which produced 900,000 bales of cotton from 390,000 hectares in 2008-09, had earlier set a target of 25 per cent growth in cotton output and 21 per cent increase in area under cultivation at 490,000 hectares.
However, according to an assessment of crop damage due to recent floods, conducted by the state agriculture department, close to 51 per cent of the 291,000 hectares under cotton has been partly damaged in north Karnataka during this year’s kharif season. Major damage to crop was in Belgaum district, affecting 18,730 hectares, followed by Davanagere, which has lost 16,584 hectares and Dharwad 16,565 hectares. Gulbarga and Raichur districts have lost 15,228 hectares and 13,456 hectares respectively.
Assuming that another 200,000 hectares will be brought under cultivation in the Rabi season, the state is likely to end the current crop year with an estimated cotton output of close to 1.1 million bales from 342,000 hectares, the sources in state agriculture department said.
At an average of 4.8 bales per hectare during the kharif season and around two bales per hectare during the rabi season, the cotton trade in the state estimates the total production from the state to be higher by around 15 per cent this year compared to last year. While the recent heavy rains have damaged crop in some areas, in other areas the crop is likely to be more, Hemanth Modi, a Hubli-based commission agent said.
While the farmers use Bt Cotton seeds for cultivation, which yields an average of 4.8 bales of lint cotton per hectare, short variety cotton seeds (Jayadhar variety) are used for cultivation during the rabi season, which yields around 2 bales per hectare in Karnataka. For the current cotton season, (October 2009-September 2010) the open market prices are ruling at a high of Rs 2,850 per quintal in Karnataka. While the Central government has fixed the minimum support price at Rs 2,000-4,200 per quintal depending on the variety of cotton.
The Cotton Corporation of India Ltd (CCI) has deployed its procurement officers at 14 centres across the state and the procurement is likely to commence next month. During 2008-09, CCI had procured 163,000 bales in the state, a CCI official said.