Record govt purchases of cotton, paddy from Punjab

Rajvir Singh Golta offered 52 quintals of narma/kapas (uncooked un-ginned cotton) over three pickings from his five-acre land in Jhumba village of Punjab’s Bathinda district. He received the total minimal assist worth (MSP) of Rs 5,665 per quintal for his medium-long staple fibre crop that was procured by the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) between early-October and mid-December.

The 42-year-old is happy that the CCI entered the market on time on the season’s begin when narma charges had been Rs 4,600-4,800/quintal. That’s a view additionally echoed by Nirmal Singh Tiwana, a farmer from the identical village who offered 21 quintals of the crop, grown on two out of his four-acre holding, to the CCI on the Centre’s MSP.

And it isn’t simply cotton. Government businesses have procured an all-time excessive 202.78 lakh tonnes of paddy from Punjab on the MSP of Rs 1,988/quintal for 2020-21.

Yet Golta and Tiwana are a part of the continued farmer agitation towards the Centre’s three farm legal guidelines. “I received the MSP this time, but not in the previous years, when CCI people would enter only after we had sold at below MSP to private traders. This agitation is to ensure that we are paid MSP every year and our crop is procured on time,” stated Golta, again after spending three days on the Tikri protest website on the Delhi-Haryana border.

According to Tiwana, who has been organising provides for the langar (group kitchen) at Tikri, CCI was energetic this season solely “because of our protests”. The authorities, he stated, principally needed to “show” that there’s nothing mistaken with its farm legal guidelines.

Cotton arrivals in North-West India start from late-September. Out of Punjab’s estimated kapas crop of 52.50 lakh quintals this time, about 32.50 lakh quintals had been marketed until December-end. The CCI bought 27.5 lakh quintals (nearly 85 per cent) of that.

In Haryana, which is anticipated to supply 125 lakh quintals, the state-owned company has procured 52.73 lakh quintals of the 85 lakh quintals which have arrived to date. Even in Rajasthan, the place 85.55 lakh quintals of the general 135 lakh quintals crop has been marketed, the CCI has procured almost two-thirds of the arrivals in the primary Ganganagar cotton belt.

These large-scale and well timed purchases by CCI haven’t solely helped small growers like Golta and Tiwana realise the MSP, however have additionally led to open market costs rising above the MSP.

Private merchants and ginners are presently shopping for medium-long staple kapas (26.5-27 mm fibre size) from the Bathinda market at Rs 5,800/quintal, as towards the official MSP of Rs 5,665. Even long-staple varieties (27.5-28.5 mm), with the next MSP of Rs 5,725/quintal, are buying and selling at Rs 5,900-5,950.

“Prices going above the MSP will only benefit farmers with larger holdings. But I don’t mind that. For me, what matters is getting an assured price at the time of bringing my crop to the mandi immediately after harvesting. MSP is necessary for farmers who have no capacity to hold on to their crop and wait for prices to go up. We need money to run our kitchen and sow the next crop,” Golta stated.

An official of the CCI at Bathinda advised The Indian Express: “We have made record purchases this season. In fact, we have stopped buying in the past 10-12 days. There’s no need when prices are ruling above MSP. Small and marginal farmers have anyway sold their crop to us.”

The firming up of costs is being attributed to elevated export demand, particularly from China. The US Department of Agriculture has projected its cotton imports to surge from 15.54 lakh tonnes in 2019-20 (August-July) to 22.86 lakh tonnes this 12 months. The world benchmark ‘Cotlook A index’ worth is now at 88.1 cents per pound, up from 79.5 cents a 12 months in the past and the sub-60 ranges of early-April on the peak of the Covid-19 disaster.

Manmeet Singh, who farms 5 acres at Ganga village of Bathinda’s Nathana tehsil, was paid the MSP for his 53 quintals of kapas procured by CCI. But he, too, has been making backward and forward journeys to the Tikri border. “The Modi government’s farm laws will lead to mandis shutting down and the government stopping whatever little procurement it is doing today. It will leave us completely at the mercy of private traders and corporates,” he claimed.

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