The quality of cotton that arrives from the agency areas of erstwhile undivided Adilabad district is considered to be the best, but it has attracted the lowest price thanks to exploitation of the poor aboriginal farmers.
Though the price quoted by traders in these areas ranges between Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 4,200 per quintal, the Adivasi farmers get about Rs. 3,700 only owing to deductions imposed by purchasers, which is much below the minimum support price of Rs. 4,320 per quintal.
This nevertheless, is not the whole story. Exploitation can be seen in the way the Government facilitates ‘access’ to markets for the ethnic people.
Take for example the Indervelli Agriculture Market Yard or the purchase centres at Sonala in Boath mandal and Neredigonda in Adilabad district.
The Government has permitted weighing of cotton, a few thousand quintals of which arrives from fields of Adivasis, at respective ginning mills instead of market yards.
“This is to facilitate farmers so that they do not have to move their produce over the distance between a yard and the ginning mill,” a Marketing Department official provided a reason for the facilities remaining closed despite the Government having spent crores of rupees to construct these facilities.
Traditionally, the period of cotton picking is rather long as the hands engaged in the picking are fewer when compared to fields of other farmers.
Ruptured cotton stays longer on the plants thereby ensuring maximum exposure to sun and thereby drying up the produce to a desirable 8% and below moisture content.
“The staple of 30 mm and micronaire of 4 to 4.5 in addition to a low trash content makes it good quality cotton,” concurs Deepak Birolia, a trader of cotton bales. As there was no incidence of unseasonal rainfall in the tribal belt this year, the cotton has stayed good in quality in terms of its colour too when compared to blackening of the produce wherever untimely rainfall occurred.
“The Adivasi farmers are unaware of these intricacies,” conceded a licensed cotton purchaser at Indervelli mandal headquarters.
“They just dump their produce and walk away with whatever they get or are assured to be paid,” he added, insisting anonymity.
S. Harpal Singh