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Cotton crop at risk again, Vidharbh farmers seek govt aid

2021-10-05 13:00:15
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Cotton crop at risk again, Vidharbh farmers seek govt aid

Extended rains are now posing risk to cotton, the main crop of Vidarbha. Harvest in a number of pockets is reported to be delayed by 20 to 25 days as the fields are still wet. This has prevented cotton boll formation to the full capacity, in turn, holding up the harvest.

If farmers in Vidarbha are still hoping for some sunshine that may save the crop, cotton growers in neighbouring region of Marathwada are already reported to be in losses due to excessive rains. Once it gets dry, there are chances of pink bollworm pest affecting the crop, said experts.

This is the second crop at stake after soyabean. Farmers in both Vidarbha and Marathwada have reported losses as their soyabean output was reduced to 50%. The rates of soyabean too have halved to Rs4,500 from Rs9,000 in the beginning of the harvest season as low quality is one of the reasons.

Last year, cotton growers had to face low rates due to Covid pandemic. The pandemic restrictions had also hit the MSP (minimum support price) procurement and there were reports of pink bollworm infestation too.

Officials in the agriculture department contacted by TOI said there are losses, but only in low lying areas of Vidarbha. There may be losses, but not as much to create a crisis, said the officials.

In Yavatmal, a group of farmers had blocked the road to highlight the situation. Their demand is that state government should carry out assessment of the losses and declare a compensation.

“Cotton arrivals, which begin by Dussehra, may be delayed by 20 days or so,” said Sudhir Kothari, a director in Hinganghat APMC, one of the major markets for cotton.

President of Shetkari Sanghatana Anil Ghanwat said farmers of Marathwada are already in losses. Fields located near dams are already flooded because gates have been opened due to heavy rainfall. “Shortage of soyabean is expected this time, so are the cotton supplies,” he said.

Former director of Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) CD Mayee said even as the situation in Vidarbha is under control, there are major losses in Marathwada. There are chances of pink bollworm infestation once it gets dry. There are also reports of cotton bolls rotting, he said.

Vijay Jawandhia, farm activist from Wardha, said the crisis may also hit the farm workers’ earnings. In some places, the crops are not even in a condition to be harvested.

Farmers TOI talked to in different districts said there are chances that the yield may be reduced to half, if there is no dry spell soon.

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