Cotton grown in 14,000 hectares in TN's Ramanathapuram, farmers seek MSP support

As cotton prices have dropped from Rs 100/kg to Rs 60/kg over the last three years, farmers want the government to provide a MSP for the crop to mitigate post-harvest loss.
A cotton farm
A cotton farm(File photo | Express)

RAMANATHAPURAM: Out of the target of 14,000 hectares for the second crop season, farmers in Ramanathapuram could cultivate only 6,300 hectares. Of the total cultivated area, cotton is being grown in 4,800 hectares. With 10,000 hectares of cotton having been cultivated in the first season, the total acreage of the crops now stands at 14,000 hectares. As cotton prices have dropped from Rs 100/kg to Rs 60/kg over the last three years, farmers want the government to provide a minimum support price (MSP) for the crop to mitigate post-harvest loss.

The samba crop season had concluded between January and February. Riding on the availability of water, the district administration on the advice of Collector Vishnu Chandran conducted special district-wide campaigns to promote a second crop season. Although 14,000 hectares were targeted, only 6,374 hectares could be cultivated due to irrigation woes. It is to be noted that a second crop season is a rare occurrence in Ramanathapuram, and was last observed four years ago, as the majority of the area is dependent on rains.

Speaking to TNIE, a senior official from the agriculture department stated that out of the 6,300 hectares of second crop cultivated, cotton was cultivated on over 4,800 hectares. This, in addition to the 10,000 hectares cultivated during the first crop season. Apart from cotton, paddy and sesame seeds have been cultivated on over 600 hectares each during the second crop season, in addition to pulses and oil seeds.  

Cotton is one of the major crops, after paddy and chilli, in the district. But, the prices of the crop have witnessed fluctuations in the recent years. In 2021, one kg of cotton was sold for Rs 113. The prices dipped in the later years, with 2023 recording cotton's rate between Rs 60 and Rs 70/kg. While the acreage of the second crop season this year is yet to reach its harvesting stage, those cultivated during the first crop season already have.

Official sources from agriculture marketing department stated that the sale of cotton has commenced at Paramakudi, R S Mangalam and Mudukulathur regulatory markets, where the crop is being sold for Rs 63, Rs 62, and Rs 65 per kg respectively.  

MSK Bakkianathan, a farmer leader from Ramanathapuram, said, "Despite being one of the major crops in the district, cotton farmers are faced with hardships to secure profits. Prices of cotton keep fluctuating in the market. While cotton in Madurai is sold at an average rate of Rs 70/kg, prices in Ramanathapuram barely cross Rs 60. Considering the welfare of farmers, an MSP could be fixed for the cotton crop to mitigate post-harvest loss."

Noting an increase in the number of farmers opting for cotton crop in the second crop season, Bakkianathan said the harvest is likely to go up this year as well continue for months, which makes it imperative for the authorities concerned to address the issues. 

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