Pest attacks, poor marketing of produce cited as reason
The area under cotton and groundnut cultivation in Palakkad district is dwindling fast. Palakkad is the only district in the State where these two crops are grown in a big way by farmers.
The major cotton-growing regions included the taluks of Chittur and Palakkad, and Attappady (Mannarkkad taluk).
According to statistic published by the Department of Economics and Statistics, Government of Kerala, cotton was cultivated on 7,258 hectares of land in 1970-71. The production was 7,292 100-kg bundles.
In 1980-81, cotton was grown on 6,223 hectares and the production was 9,847 100-kg bundles. In 1990-91, the area under cotton cultivation rose to 10,731 hectares. The production was 17,320 100-kg bundles.
The decline started in 2000. During 2000-01 the area under cultivation became 3,847 hectares and the production was 6209 100-kg bundles. In 2008-09 this became 1,152 hectares and 1,498 100-kg bundles respectively.
In 1970-71, groundnut was cultivated on 14,692 hectares of land. The production was 16,088 tons. This was the State's total production during that period, according to the data.
In 1980-81, the area under cultivation declined to 9,309 hectares and production came down by over 50 per cent.
In 1990-91, the area under cultivation rose to 12,812 hectares and the production touched 9,522 tons.
During 2000-01, the area under cultivation dwindled to 3,676 hectares. The production fell to 2,733 tons. It further shrunk in 2008-09 when only 1,733 hectares was used. The production touched a low of 1,282 metric tons.
A study by T.M.V. Rao, who retired from the department, had listed various factors which led to the decline.
Cotton growers had been facing the problem of pest attacks. Poor marketing of the produce in the State was another reason, the study said. Traders from Tamil Nadu started procuring cotton at lower prices, the study quoted farmers as saying. Shortage of labour was also stated as a problem.
Groundnut growers also had the same share of problems.
Climate change had also affected the crop largely, the study said.
Climate change hit groundnut production: study
Decline started in 2000-01