More than a month after cotton harvesting began in Punjab, the semi-arid areas are witnessing a five-fold decline in arrivals from the last kharif marketing season.

Market watchers attributed the slow arrival to the fall in prices of the “white gold” over the past two weeks due to ongoing low demand in the international market.

They say farmers keep non-perishables for higher rates.

According to information available with the Punjab State Agriculture Marketing Board or the mandi board, various districts of the semi-arid region of Punjab have recorded the arrival of 46,000 quintals this season till October 4.

While in 2021, various buying centers have registered the arrival of 2.33 lakh quintals till October 4.

“On September 29 the average rate of raw materials in Punjab was 9,050 per quintal which came down to the average rate 8,400 yesterday, which was 2,020 above MSP,” said state cotton coordinator Rajnish Goel.

For the 2022-2023 marketing season, the Center has fixed the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for cotton at 6,380 per quintal.

The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) buying season begins on October 1. CCI officials said the central agency is unlikely to enter the market for the second consecutive year as the private sector is buying the raw cotton at prices higher than the MSP.

A cotton grower from Bajak in Bathinda, Baldev Singh said farmers are hopeful that rates will improve in the coming weeks.

“Cotton box scramble has gained momentum and farmers will come to the market when rates improve. This season remained a challenge for cotton farmers as the crop was affected by pink bollworm and whitefly. At the time of sowing, the fields in the cotton sowing areas were affected by water shortage and in the later stage, several areas were waterlogged due to the rains,” said the progressive farmer.

In 2021, Punjab witnessed the first pink bollworm infestation which drastically crashed cotton production.

In the last kharif season, Punjab produced 22 lakh quintals of cotton, while, in 2020-21, all seven districts of the state produced over 49 lakh quintals of white gold.

Indian Cotton Association Limited (ICAI) president, a body of cotton exporters, spinners, ginners, Mukul Tayal said the industry expects production of 6 lakh bales or 30,000 lakh quintals of cotton in Punjab.

“Unlike other cotton growing states like Rajasthan and Haryana, cotton cultivation in Punjab was not at its best due to various reasons. Although demand in the international market is low, farmers in Punjab and other states are likely to get rates higher than the MSP,” Tajal said.

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