It was a bad day for Sharanabasava, a farmer from Devasugur village in Raichur taluk, who had brought two mini trucks of cotton to Raichur hoping better price. Unfortunately for him, the price of cotton had fallen from Rs. 4000 a quintal a week ago to Rs. 3500 a quintal on Thursday. With no alternatives before him, he unwillingly sold his crop and was returning home unhappy. “I have spent around Rs. 20,000 for growing 8 quintal cotton in an acre this year. We can survive only if we get the price of Rs. 4,500 a quintal. The price crash has devastated my hopes of repaying loans,” he said.
Sharanabasava was one among thousands of farmers in the district who had cultivated cotton in majority of their fields this year considering the relatively better price of around Rs. 5,000 a quintal for the produce last year.
The price drop was indeed an additional blow to the farmers as they had already suffered by diminished yield owing to fluctuated rains that caused draught and floods resulting in the shrunken yield of 8 quintal an acre as compared to last year’s 13 quintal an acre.
Most of the cotton coming to the city now is sold out before entering the Raichur cotton market yard which was once known to be second largest cotton market in Asia. “The cotton ginning mills in the city have a wide network of commission agents who negotiate with farmers before they reach official APMC cotton market and bring their cotton laden vehicles directly to the mills promising better price. After half of cotton unloaded from the vehicles, the mill owners quote lower price raising questions about the quality. The farmers normally don’t take the pain of reloading the crop and return to APMC market as they are not sure of getting better price over there. They would simply sell at the price the mill owner quote,” Shashidhar Haravi, a farmer who was victimised in a similar way, shared his experience with The Hindu . The collective understanding among mill owners and their nexus with commission agents is largely responsible for price crash, he added.
State president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha Chamarasa Malipatil blames State government’s “insensitivity” towards farmers for price decline. “The cotton farmers were first hit by draught and then floods. Now, they are being hit harder by government which has not come up with scientific Minimum Support Price for cotton for saving the farmers,” he says.
Considering the investment of around Rs. 20,000 an acre in dry-lands and around Rs. 25,000 an acre in irrigated lands for cotton cultivation, the government should fix MSP of Rs. 6,000 a quintal, he adds.