The cotton season of 2020-21 is likely to end by March 2021 due to heavy arrivals in the market, with cotton growers fearing another lockdown, top officials of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) said. The CCI has procured some 67 lakh bales (each bale weighing 170 kg) till date in the ongoing season at a cost of Rs 19,048.87 crore. This is almost double the amount of cotton it procured in the year-ago period.
“The pace of arrivals is very fast, maybe because of Covid fears, with Europe and the UK getting into another lockdown. Farmers fear that prices may not rise further,” PK Agrawal, CMD at CCI, said. “Prices are currently ruling at Rs 6,000 per quintal while the MSP is at Rs 5,825, and farmers feel this is a fair price. Moreover, there have been quality issues this season, especially with the long staple cotton of 30 mm because of which growers are in a hurry to sell their crop,” he said.
The delay in rains as well as excessive rains have caused problems in the crop in Telangana, Maharashtra and Saurashtra, he said. In Maharashtra, the crop has been hit by pink bollworm, while heavy unseasonal rains affected the crop in Saurashtra as well as Telangana, Agrawal explained.
Usually, sales pick up after January as farmers prefer to dry their crop after picking in hope of better returns. However, daily arrivals are now to the tune of 3-3.25 lakh bales and some 140 lakh bales have arrived in the market so far, he said.
Telangana has recorded the highest procurement, where 4.83 lakh farmers sold 21.86 lakh bales to the CCI. Maharashtra with 2.05 lakh farmers selling 10.99 lakh bales has come second. In Gujarat, 38,021 farmers brought 1.92 lakh bales. Overall, 12.66 lakh farmers have sold 65.10 lakh bales to the CCI, for which they have been paid Rs 19,048.87 crore as per the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 5,825 per quintal.
Procurement operations are in progress across Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka. Agrawal, however, feels the corporation may not be in a position to acquire more than 100-120 lakh bales, against the original estimate of 200 lakh bales, because of a poor crop. The crop estimates have been lowered to less than 350 lakh bales from 380 lakh bales predicted earlier. Prices are expected to remain firm, he said.
The Cotton Association of India has retained crop production at 356 lakh bales for 2020-21. The association has projected cotton exports to fall by about 10% to 54 lakh bales from an earlier projection of 60 lakh bales.