While cotton areas are up in certain areas, a shift in mindset is needed according to official sources. Last year, in 2016-17 the cotton coverage in Tiruvarur district had increased to about 6,900 ha up from about 4,000 ha in the previous year which is about normal for the district.
Ravichandran has put together farmers groups in the area in earlier seasons to scale up cotton produce for marketing, said that farmers groups in the area had benefited by coordinating on cotton cropping practices and choice of variety. They were able to sell directly to ginning mills. The mills too were keen on purchasing directly as they get uniform quality of cotton.
In the current year, the estimated coverage is 4,200 ha and is coming up for harvest by June-end. It is above average for the district. But, cotton prices at about â‚¹50-60 a kg as compared with â‚¹40 in the previous year.
In Thanjavur district, the core paddy growing area, in 2016-17 the area was down to about 637 ha due to peak drought and this year it is estimated at 1,100 ha. This is a 10-15 per cent increase over traditional coverage of about 1,000 acres. Officials had the same view that there is a potential to expand cotton during a dry spell early in the year.
In the Delta districts, cotton is harvested in June-August as a summer crop. This is in contrast with traditional cotton growing areas in western parts of Tamil Nadu where it is sown in July-August and harvested during the year end in winter. According to a leading farmer in Nannilam in Thiruvarur district,VKV Ravichandran, and a Director in the Iowa-based Global Farmers Network, farmers have shown a keen in the cash crop in recent years due to multiple reasons.
Cotton has emerged a possible option in some of the districts during the dry season. Apart from the dry spell which hit paddy, he pointed out pulses are also not remunerative and is ruling below support prices. Farmers generally go for a pulse crop after summer paddy.
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