The next eight days could prove to be crucial for farmers across the country. The delay in the arrival of the southwest monsoon and projections of below-normal rainfall seem to have become a concern for the agriculture sector and could impact cotton sowing operations for the kharif season of 2014, senior officials at the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) in Nagpur say.
“There has been a week's delay in the monsoon and from past experience it has been seen that when there is water shortage, farmers shift to soyabean. BT cotton seeds are expensive and if these do not germinate in time, farmers cannot afford resowing them again,” Dr KR Kranthi, director, CICR, explained.
Moreover, prices for both soya and cotton have been good this year, as a result of which farmers could take up cultivation of either soya or cotton depending on the rainfall, he said. Last year, around 115 lakh hectares across the country had come under cotton cultivation while 41 lakh hectares came under cotton cultivation in Maharashtra.
A delay of eight days could prove to be a deciding factor and if the monsoon delays up to June 20-25, there is a strong possibility of farmers shifting to soya, he added. Hazarding a guess at this point could prove to be difficult, he said. Last year, the monsoon had covered the entire country by June 15.
According to senior officials at Cotton Corporation of India, there has been a 20% rise in cotton acreage this season in states such as Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana and the monsoon is yet to set in across several states.
Moreover, after the damage caused to soyabean seeds last year by incessant rainfall at the time of harvesting, farmers could possibly shift to cotton, officials said.
Area under cotton cultivation could go up by 2-3 lakh hectares in Maharashtra and an additional one lakh hectares in the Vidarbha region, say officials. In Vidarbha, around 11 lakh hectares is under soyabean and another 13 lakh hectares under cotton. Sowing operations, which begin from June 15, could last up to July 15.
According to data available with the Cotton Development Board, Mumbai, sowing operations for cotton have already been completed in around 13.8 lakh hectares across the country.