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Cotton area to shoot up in India next season

Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan will allot a bigger area for cotton in the forthcoming season. Acreage under the crop may see a jump of about 20 to 25 per cent over last year’s 11.96 lakh hectares.

Growers are attracted by the high cotton prices, and they are switching back to the fiber crop from other cereals like paddy. Cotton yielded better returns in 2016-17 compared with other competing crops. Cotton is a cash crop and fetched a good price this year. Also, weather forecast of an El Nino impact — adverse for paddy — will make cotton a safer choice.

Cotton planting for kharif 2017 is set to begin by mid-April .Farmers expect one spell of rains to be sufficient for the initial sowing. Cotton acreage in Punjab may witness a sharp surge of about 60 per cent from the current 2.5 lakh hectares.

North India’s cottonseed market is likely to expand this year to around 65 lakh packets of 450 grams each from last year’s 50 lakh packets. Last year, cotton acreage had drastically dropped in the north, mainly in Punjab, as farmers suffered significant losses on account of crop damage inflicted by pest attacks, mainly the whitefly. Also, farmers moved away from Bt hybrids in several areas.