Farmers struggle to dry harvested cotton and fear drop in price

A farmer in Valathamangalam village in Thirunallar commune drying cotton in his house using a fan in Karaikal district

A farmer in Valathamangalam village in Thirunallar commune drying cotton in his house using a fan in Karaikal district | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Uma Gandhan, a farmer from Valathamangalam village in Thirunallar commune, was trying to dry his cotton using a fan in a portion of his house, like several hundreds of farmers here where cotton was affected by the recent off-season rain. Cotton is cultivated on over 2,500 acres in the district.

“I had raised cotton on two acres and while harvesting I found many cotton flowers that had high levels of moisture content. Now, I am trying to dry the cotton using a fan but there is a considerable loss this time for me,” said Mr. Uma.

“Private traders who usually purchase from us are unwilling to settle for an amount as they are dissatisfied with the quality of cotton due to the recent rain. I can pluck cotton from the field only after confirmation from a trader. Despite applying all the chemicals suggested by the Agriculture Department, damages due to rain could not be reversed,” said P. Pandiyan, another farmer from Thennankudi village.

“For one acre, a farmer spends around ₹60,000. We pluck cotton in four rounds, out of which the first time will have the best quality cotton which assures us that our investment will return. This time, the first round of plucking was disturbed as the rainwater went inside the crop before the flower burst. We expect our insurance money and a relief to farmers from the government at the earliest. Officials, however, cite the Model Code of Conduct as the reason for not giving us our due relief,” said PG Somu, Joint Secretary of Delta Vivasayigal Sangam.

“Traders are offering ₹50-60 a kg of cotton, which will leave us with a considerable loss,” he added.

DN Suresh from the Kadaimadai Vivasayigal Sangam claimed the district regulated market was not effective in procurement as they could not attract many traders there. “Like private, the government marketing committee should come to procure from the field. Our regulated market in the town is not effective to aid farmers at a time of crisis. Farmers already experience a huge loss, transporting cotton to the Karaikal town costs a lot,” he said.

Auction soon

A district-level official from the Agriculture Marketing department said the cotton auction would start soon along with other regulated markets in Tamil Nadu.

“We are discussing with the marketing committees in Tamil Nadu, along with them we would start auctions for cotton in our regulated market from the second week of June. We will take all steps to attract traders for good rates. We have been advising farmers to dry their cotton and delay harvest for better rates.”

District-level Agriculture Department official speaking to The Hindu said: “We have estimated 30% loss in the total harvest across the district and have reported to the higher officials in Puducherry government. We expect an announcement related to crop relief after the Lok Sabha election results.”

“The Government of India has fixed the MSP for this year at ₹66.20 a kg. If prices fall below than that we can expect the Cotton Corporation of India to step in and procure,” he added.

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