Farmers this year have taken to cotton cultivation in a big way in the drought-prone Padampur sub-division of Bargarh district. With land being bone dry for most of the year due to lack of rain, farmers in large numbers are giving up traditional crops like pulses, cereals and oilseeds.
Similar is the trend in the bordering Balangir and Nuapada districts. This kharif season, cotton has been grown in over 1,250 hectares (ha) against 640 ha in the corresponding season last year in Padampur block. In Paikmal block, cotton has been cultivated in over 205 ha against 100 ha last year. Likewise in Jharbandh block, cotton has been grown over 350 ha for this kharif season compared to 35 ha last year while in Gaiselet block, cotton has been cultivated in 480 ha.
Sources said soil of the region is best suited for cotton. Moreover, the crop is drought resistant.
A farmer, Sukhdev Patra of Dahigaon village in Padampur block, said he had taken to cotton cultivation for augmenting his income. “I used to earn just ` 5,000 by growing pulses, but the profit margin has now gone up to ` 20,000 to ` 25,000 after I switched to cotton,” he said.
Sadhu Rana of Dahita village, said he undertook cotton cultivation a few years back for better use of his fields. “I started cotton cultivation as my field was under-utilised,” he said.
They are, however, apprehensive of lack of a platform to sell their produce. In Balangir and Nuapada, lack of government support has been forcing cotton growers to opt for distress sale of their crops.
However, District Agriculture Officer Tapan Kumar Mohapatra said the State Government had been moved to declare the area as ‘Cotton Growing’ and extend support to the farmers.