BATHINDA: As the ongoing cotton season is at its fag end with over 80% cotton already having arrived in the markets, the estimate of fibre crop’s production in Punjab has been yet again revised downwards with a loss of over 40,000 bales (1 bale=170kg). Initially, the estimate was put at 12 lakh bales in the start of season in October-November 2017, which was lowered to 11 lakh bales and later to 10.37 lakh bales in the last few months. It has now been lowered to 9.97 lakh bales.
In the latest revision on March 8, cotton output for the 2017-18 crop year has been pegged at less than a million bales. Till February 28, a total of 8 lakh bales had arrived in the markets of Punjab.
In neighbouring Haryana also the estimates of cotton output have been scaled down to 24.30 lakh bales down from earlier estimate of 24.45 lakh bales. However, in Rajasthan the estimates have been revised upwardly by 21,600 bales to 22.14 lakh bales from the earlier estimate of 21.92 lakh bales.
Experts have stated the loss in cotton production could be due to yields being lower than expected. Earlier, the yield was being estimated at 550 kg per acre, which has come down to nearly 515 kg per acre in Punjab. Rates of raw cotton too have come down to nearly Rs 4,950-5,050 per quintal from Rs 5,100-5,200 a month ago.
Deficient rainfall when it was needed most in July-August 2017, and less availability of canal water, according to the state agriculture department, are the major reason behind fall in the cotton yield. The downward trend in the futures trading and liquidity crunch due to fraud in banks are also cited for drop in cotton rates by nearly Rs 150 per quintal in the past few days, the traders said.
“We were expecting the yield to remain over 600 kg per acre. But it is expected to remain low due to deficient rain and hot and humid weather conditions in July,” said Punjab joint director of agriculture Sukhdev Singh.
Bathinda branch manager of the central government agency Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) Brajesh Kasana said, “Earlier it was expected that over 10.40 lakh bales will be produced in Punjab but now going by the fall in yield, we expect an output of nearly 10 lakh bales in Punjab.”
Farmer Partap Singh of Sangat village in Bathinda, who had sown cotton over five acres, said they were expecting good yield like the previous year but it had dropped. Parminder Singh of Katar Singh Wala village in Bathinda said lower yields would dip farmer’s returns.