Labour costs, dry weather dash cotton farmers’ hopes
The cotton farmers in the district are facing multiple problems in their rush to get maximum yield. Encouraged by early good rains this year, many farmers went for the cotton crop invested huge amounts expecting good returns.
Mahbubnagar: The cotton farmers in the district are facing multiple problems in their rush to get maximum yield. Encouraged by early good rains this year, many farmers went for the cotton crop invested huge amounts expecting good returns. However, as harvesting season approaches, they are now faced with several problems including labour shortage, increasing labour costs and falling price for the produce.
Moreover, due to dry weather and lack of rainfall for the past one month, the cotton crop over a large extent of rain-fed areas is withering. With Mahabubnagar having all kinds of red, black and gravel soils, the cotton crop is grown over a large extent of land in the district. The crop is estimated to have been sown in over 12,000 acres in all the 26 mandals in the district. This year, the farmers in Midjil and Urkonda mandals have sown the cotton crop over an extent of 2,000 acres.
“Though the crop has shown a good growth at budding stage, it has been withering for the last one month due to lack of rains. With just 3-4 cotton buds per each plant, the yield will also be not to our expectations,” said Mallaiah of Vemula village from Urkonda mandal in the district. Mallaiah had sown cotton crop over 22 acres and had spent more than Rs 2 lakhs for seeds, tilling, sowing, weeding, pesticides and labour cost so far. However, with the crop reaching its harvest stage, he is finding it tough to get labour to pick cotton.
“With no labour available locally, we are getting the labourers from 15-20 kilometers away paying Rs 200 per day for plucking the cotton. Earlier, we used to pay just Rs 100-150, but the due to scarcity we are forced to pay twice as much,” rued Ramanji, another farmer from Midjil mandal.
With rising cost of labour and drop in the yields of cotton, the farmers in the district are a worried lot and fearing they might face huge losses even this year. “We have lost our crops during the past two years. However, good rains had given us a hope this year in the beginning, but by the time we harvest, again it is costing us heavily in terms of labour. We are paying Rs. 9,000 per day for plucking cotton,” says Nagaraju, a farmer from Vemula village.
In fact, the farmers had expected good market price this year for cotton. But even though there is a low cotton supply in the market, its price is still hovering around Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 4,900 range. The farmers can gpppet good returns for their investment only if the cotton prices cross Rs. 6,000 per quintal.
By A Raju