Nearly 15 lakh hectares of cotton plantation in Maharashtra have dried up and gone to waste. Farmers had sowed seeds in June, like every year, but the delay in the onset of monsoon the seeds have not germinated and claim the seeds are now completely useless. The farmers have urged for government’s intervention and help them re-sow crops.
In Maharashtra, cotton farming is carried out on 44 lakh hectares of land, but this year cotton was sown on only 20 lakh hectares. Even in this, most of the planted seeds haven’t germinated because due to no rainfall.
The state agricultural commissioner, Umakant Dangat, said that they already are late by a month, which means the yield will be adversely affected. Also, if they sow the seeds late, the plants become prone to pests and other diseases. However, he is hoping for rains to start soon and be able to get the productivity desired.
But the farmers in rural Maharashtra have already given up hopes on cotton farming, at least for this season. Farmers want to carry out re-sowing but not of cotton, because the time for cotton farming is gone now. They want to re-sow other crops such as pulses which seems Dangat is unaware of this.
But, according to Kishore Tiwari, founder of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), an NGO that has been monitoring issues affecting the farmers’ community in Vidarbha feel re-sowing will be possible only if they get help from the government, as they have already spent money on cotton farming and unless the state government provides farmers with some sort of subsidy, the farmer are not in a position to invest in re-plantation.
The condition is grim for farmers in arid Vidarbha cotton being the cash crop that brought in the most money for them. The cotton yields is expected to drop by 50 percent, the estimate cost to cultivate the crop on a hectare of land cost about R30,000 and farmers have no money to bear the costs of another round of planting seeds of another crop, unless state authorities offer a helping hand.
However, the state feels some of the plantation can still be saved. As per Dangat, nearly 3-5 lakh hectares of cotton farms are safe, as these fields have access to drip irrigation. Yet, this, too, is largely dependent on the monsoon.
Dangat is optimistic that farmers will come up with some innovative steps and the government shall help them in every possible manner, with schemes and policies available with them from the central and the state government.
As per the department of agriculture, the state produced 95.3 crore kg bales of cotton, with each bale fetching nearly Rs 35,000, last year.
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