BATHINDA: The state agriculture department and trade bodies expect the cotton production to be lowered further by nearly 60,000 bales from the previous estimates of 10.97 lakh bales (1 bale=170kg) in Punjab for the 2017-18 crop year (September 1, 2017-August 31, 2018). The latest estimation of production of cotton, which is Punjab's second biggest kharif (summer sown) crop after paddy including basmati, has been put at 10.37 lakh bales as on January 31.
At the start of cotton procurement season in September 2017, cotton output estimates in Punjab were 12 lakh bales, which were revised in December to 10.97 lakh bales. Cotton had been sown over 3.82 lakh hectares in Punjab this season whereas in 2016, area under the fibre crop was 2.57 lakh hectares.
In the 2016-17 crop year, Punjab had an output of 8.57 lakh bales of raw cotton with an average yield of 655 kg per acre. In the current season, the yield is expected to decrease to 550kg per acre.
Till January 31, 2018, arrivals of 6.92 lakh bales of cotton were recorded in the markets of Punjab whereas in the corresponding period last year, arrivals were 5.91 lakh bales. Cotton output target has also been lowered in neighbouring Haryana and Rajasthan.
Farm department and experts are citing deficient rainfall in July-August 2017 and less availability of canal water as the reasons for the drop in yield of cotton this season. Apart from getting lower yields, farmers are also impacted by weak rates of raw cotton. Currently, raw cotton is selling at Rs 5,100-5,200 per quintal, down from Rs 5,600-5,700 in the corresponding period last year.
"We were expecting the yield to remain around 650kg per acre. However, it's likely to drop to about 550kg per acre due to deficient rain and hot and humid weather conditions in July," said Sukhdev Singh, joint director of Punjab agriculture department.
Union government agency Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has also lowered the estimates of cotton output in the region. CCI's Bathinda branch manager Brajesh Kasana said, "Earlier it was expected that over 11 lakh bales will be produced in Punjab. However, going by the drop in yields, we expect arrivals at nearly 10.4 lakh bales."
I J Dhuria, director (raw material) of leading textile manufacture Vardhman Textiles, said though cotton scene at the national level seemed good, the yield had come down in Punjab which might lower the total output.
Farmer Krishan Singh of Bhagi Wander village in Bathinda, who has sown cotton in six acres, said "We are expected good yield like the previous year but it has gone down." Another farmer Gurdev Singh from Kot Shamir village said lower yields would lead to dip in their returns from the crop.