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The Fear of Pink Bollworm to Shrink Cotton Acreage

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan
Pink Bollworm

The National Seed Association of India (NSAI) expects a dip of 4-5 percent in the cotton acreage in the country. Most of this could happen in Maharashtra and Karnataka.The area in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana could remain the same as in last year.

“They are predicting a good monsoon this year. A good monsoon augurs well for the cotton sector,” said NSAI Chairman M Prabhakara Rao, adding that there was no problem with the seed availability.

Farmers in Telangana, however, expect a drop of five lakh acres in forthcoming season. “Last year, the State grew cotton on 45 lakh acres. We expect a decrease of 5 lakh acres due to heavy losses the farmers incurred in several districts because of the failure of Bollgard-II,” a farm leader said. The loss in cotton could be a gain for maize and chillis in the upcoming kharif.

The Washington-based International Cotton Advisory Committee informed that cotton acreage in India, the largest producer of the fibre crop, may drop to 12 million hectares in 2018-19 due to the pink ballworm infestation in the last two years that has led to losses in yields.

This might discourage farmers from sowing cotton this year, it said.


Cotton acreage had expanded 19 percent in 2017-18 to 12.25 million ha over the previous year.

“Farmers are not happy with cotton this year. Of late, the pickings have not been good and the quality has taken a hit. The area is likely to come down but it is too early to say,” said M Ramasami, Founder of the Salem-based Rasi Seeds Private Limited, a large seed player. “We will be able to get a clearer picture in the next 10-15 days when plantings in North India will begin for 2018-19 season,” Ramasami added.

Ramasami  further added, “Overall, the cotton situation is grim as textile mills are not getting good quality cotton, while farmers are not getting good price and their spends have gone up,”.

In its latest estimates, the CAI had pegged the total cotton arrivals till end of February at 247.10 lakh bales (each of 170 kg). Already about 53 lakh bales have been shipped, while additional 10 lakh bales are contracted to be shipped in coming months. Total exports for the current year may touch 65 lakh bales. The surge in export demand is attributed to the increase in ICE futures prices.

CAI had estimated total supply for the 2017-18 season at 412 lakh bales, which included the opening stock of 30 lakh bales at the beginning of the season in October 2017 and the imports of 20 lakh bales. The domestic consumption was seen at 330 lakh bales.

The carry-over stock at the end of the current season on September 30, 2018 is estimated to be 22 lakh bales — down by 20 lakh bales than the previous closing stock of 42 lakh bales estimated in the previous month.

The cotton sowing will fall as farmers would switch to other crops that give better returns. Soyabean has fetched better prices this year as against cotton. About 10-12 per of the cotton area in Maharashtra, Telangana and partly in Karnataka will shift to soyabean,” said Atul S Ganatra, President, Cotton Association of India (CAI), the apex trade body for the fibre crop. “This may cause prices to firm up in the coming days,” Ganatra added.

According to market sources, cotton prices which are currently ruling in the range of Rs. 40,000-40,800 per candy (each of 356 kg) may cross Rs. 45,000 by the end of May.

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