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North Indian farmers return to cotton

Farmers in North India have made a comeback to cotton this year. The fiber crop helped growers across the country get decent prices last year. So, sowing in Punjab and Haryana is expected to increase by about 10 per cent. In Punjab, cotton acreage has increased by around 41 per cent, to about four lakh hectares this year over the previous year, while the growth in acreage in Haryana is around five per cent, at 6.35 lakh hectares.

Untimely rains in the month of May in Punjab and Haryana did impact planting and force farmers to resow patches. However, cotton sowing prospects in other regions will depend on multiple factors such as the monsoon as well as alternate crops such as castor and soybean. Farmers have multiple alternates available for cotton. So they will opt for the higher return crop especially when there is still an uncertainty over the monsoon. Despite the crop size being smaller than the previous year’s, the prices supported by higher MSP have given better returns to cotton growers. While it is premature to estimate the sowing prospects in central, western and southern India before the onset of the monsoon, there is an optimism about the cotton crop this year.