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Despite a rise in area, cotton yield drops below 500 kg per hectare in India

2021-07-30 19:17:00
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Despite a rise in area, cotton yield drops below 500 kg per hectare in India

Productivity is low as no new technology has been introduced since 2006, say, industry officials, scientists.

Over the last three years, the yield per hectare of Indian cotton has dropped below 500 kg per hectare despite a rise in the area under the fibre crop.

‘Yet to feel the pinch’
Industry officials, traders and cotton research scientists say India is yet to feel the pinch of the low yield since the textile industry has not been running at capacity since March last year due to the Covid pandemic.

Ranks 34 in yield
Data show that though India is the largest producer of cotton globally, it ranks 34th in terms of yield, below Vietnam, Pakistan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Myanmar.

Australia tops the list, getting 2,0171 kg of cotton per hectare, followed by China (1,879 kg), Brazil (1,803 kg) and Turkey (1,645 kg), respectively. “We got the best out of the genetically-modified cotton during 2013-14, but after that yield has stagnated.

Technology licence
“Each one in the textile industry will stand to gain if cotton yield increases to at least 600 kg. Farmers will get higher returns, industry will get cotton at a competitive price and in turn, textile products will be competitive in the global market,” said a textile industry official.

Pink bollworm menace
“The Bollgard II technology had a big impact, particularly in tackling the pink bollworm until 2015-16. After than the technology lost its potency and the pest developed resistance. Now, farmers have to resort to spraying pesticide to tackle the bollworm and, in a way, this has resulted in productivity dropping,” said Ramasami.

Maharashtra’s case
“At least 20 lakh hectares in Maharashtra have been brought under the unauthorised HTBt (Herbicide tolerant Bt) cotton. This is fine for short-term but in the longer run, we need standard companies to produce the seeds to protect farmers from any harm such as adulterated or spurious seeds,” said scientist Mayee.

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