Rains revive hope of record cotton crop in Gujarat

August 14th, 2008 - 6:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Gandhinagar, Aug 14 (IANS) The return of the monsoon in Gujarat after an extended break has raised hopes of yet another bountiful cotton harvest in the state for the second year in a row. When monsoon retreated, after an initial burst in the last week of June, there was speculation in trade circles that the state may not be able to reap once again a bumper crop of 11 million bales that had made it the nation’s top cotton grower last year.

The state’s agriculture department had in fact prepared contingent plans for growing other crops like pulses in case there was a failure of the cotton crop, grown mainly in the Saurashtra region.

There were even reports that ground nut, which has been the staple crop of Gujarat for many years until it yielded ground to cotton in the last two years, would again become the farmers’ favourite.

However, the current spell of well-dispersed rains throughout Gujarat and especially in Saurashtra has dispelled anxieties that the state would lose out on cotton this year due to lack of rain.

Agriculture department sources told IANS Wednesday that as on August 11, the area under cotton during the kharif season was 2.3 million hectares compared to 2.27 million hectares on an average in the previous three years. Last year 2.5 million hectares were under cotton.

Still the anticipated output in the state is certain to equal last year’s output of 11 million bales and could even exceed because of an expected increase in productivity this time around, the sources added.

Asked whether the department foresaw any possibility of damage to the cotton crop if the rainfall turned out to be excessive, sources said the current spell of rain is neither incessant nor torrential and is evenly spread.

“Even if the rain continued for the next ten days with the same degree of intensity as it is doing now there is no cause for any worry.” Sources explained that soil conditions in Saurashtra are such that a four-day let up in rains, which was eminently possible, would ensure that any excess water will percolate down. The upper strata of soil would dry up enough to receive further rain.

Himmatlal Patel, chairman of the Ahmedabad Cotton Merchant Association, when contacted said the current spell of rain was “very good for the cotton crop.”

He said it would be “premature” to say anything about the size of the crop as only sowing has been completed. But he said that Gujarat is on track to reap a good harvest. He said the current rains are not only good for Gujarat alone but for all the cotton growing states in India.

Arun Dalal, a leading cotton broker in the city, however, said the fresh bout of rains in the state has ensured that Gujarat would not only equal last year’s output but could even exceed it.

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