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Good Prices, Quality And Disease-Free Crop Made This Years Diwali Special For Cotton Farmers

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
Cotton Farmers

Diwali this year has been special for cotton farmers from Gujarat's Rajkot area. "This time, we don't feel burdened by financial hardship," farmers said.

Cotton growers are lucky compared to soya farmers,” says Asaram Shinde of Beed in Maharashtra's Marathwada region. For cotton producers, it is the moment to rejoice."

Cotton farmers are enjoying Diwali in a for the first time in a long time, according to Irfan Sheikh,  Director of Sahyadri Balaghat Farmers Producers Company, which trades in cotton from the region.

Record Highs

Cotton producers throughout the country, not just in Gujarat and Maharashtra, had a different and stress-free Diwali this year, as kapas (raw cotton) prices are at record highs, up at least 70% from last year.

"This is the first time we've seen such pricing," says Bandi Virupangowda, a big farmer in Ganekal (N) village, Devadurga taluk, Raichur district, eastern Karnataka, where cotton is a key crop.

In Karnataka, cotton prices are hovering about Rs70,000 per candy (356 kilos). In Telangana, kapas are valued at Rs8,500 per quintal. It sold for Rs9,250 at Parkal market yard in the State last week. Prices in Maharashtra have surpassed Rs9,000 per quintal in certain marketplaces, with producers expected to collect Rs10,000 in the coming days. These are up from Rs4,000 - Rs5,500 a year earlier over the same time period.

Worldwide Market

Export standard Shankar-6 cotton was offered for Rs67,000-67,500 a candy this week, according to the Gujarat Cotton Association. Growers have benefited from a worldwide market bull run, with prices reaching a decade high due to stronger offtake, reduced ending inventories, and supply concerns.

Cotton is now offered in New York at 108.26 cents a pound (Rs68,600 per candy) for delivery in December. Prices on the futures market are hovering around 100 cents a pound (Rs58,700 per candy), indicating that they will do well this season (October 2021-September 2022).

“This year, footfalls at stores and retail establishments in Rajkot were enormous. Something we haven't seen in years. "People seemed least concerned about fuel costs exceeding Rs100 per litre," says Anand Poppat, a raw cotton, trash, and yarn seller.

Gujarat Cotton Trade Association General Secretary Ajay Shah said the year was a double bonanza for cotton producers because prices and yields were both high. "The monsoon has also been nice, and no reports of insect attacks have been reported across the country," he said.

Even medium-quality cotton was sold for far more than the minimum support price of Rs5,726 per quintal.

"The cost of cotton production has more than quadrupled, while the output has decreased to 5-6 quintals per acre from roughly 15 quintals during the non-Bt days," said Raj Reddy, a farmer from Warangal district who grew the fibre crop on two acres.

“We anticipate it will be about 8-10 quintals per acre, versus an expectation of 10-12 quintals per acre,” Virupan Gowda said.

Cotton in Karnataka is getting a better price, according to Ramanuja Das Boob, a sourcing agent for both local mills and exports in Raichur.

Farmers in Telangana believe that, due to low yields and rising production costs, this year's high prices will be just ample to recoup their investments.

With record cotton prices, Virupangowda believes producers will be able to manage greater fertiliser and labour expenditures. "The cost of cultivation per acre this year was Rs35,000-40,000," he says.

Producers are selling their crops as soon as they are picked, however large growers are holding back in anticipation of higher prices. However, the Karnataka grower is concerned that the monsoon's irregular rainfall may have an impact on the crop.

Cotton arrivals were projected to be 1.5 lakh bales across the country ahead of Diwali. "Prices will drop down a little if the same arrival trend continues over the following 15 days," Boob said.

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