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Erratic rains lead to decline in cotton sowing area
Jul '08
Rains have not blessed the Indian peninsula this year with its heavy down pours leading to a 38 percent reduction in area sown under cotton during the ongoing kharif season.

So far, only 39.17 lakh hectares (lh) have been planted under cotton against 63.38 lh in the corresponding period last year. In terms of area, acreage has dropped tremendously in Maharashtra (from 26.20 to 10.51 lh), Andhra Pradesh (8.68 to 5.92 lh), Gujarat (12.50 to 8.59 lh) and Karnataka (1.57 to 1.46 lh). Needless to say, this is the result of poor rainfall in these regions.

Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) asserted that in Vidarbha, sowing is normally over by around July 20 and nearly 70 percent of the plantation is completed. However, this year only 45-50 percent has been covered in the period. The next 10 days will be very crucial for Vidarbha, Marathwada and Andhra Pradesh where sowing extends till the end of this month or perhaps even till the first week of August, but of course, rains will play a decisive role in determining the outcome.

The Northern region is also facing a similar downfall in sowing area despite copious rainfall in cotton growing tracts. Area has fallen in Punjab (from 6.04 to 5.60 lh), Haryana (4.83 to 4.18 lh) and Rajasthan (3.5 to 1.81 lh), with the normal acearge in these States amounting to 5.15, 5.76 and 4.30 lh respectively.

Better remunerative crops and constant threats of mealy bug insect pest have been highlighted as the major reasons for downfall in this region. While farmers in Punjab and Haryana have preferred to bring more area under paddy, those in Rajasthan have reported an increase in acreage of maize, bajra, soyabean and groundnut.

Experts believe that if this current trend continues, India is likely to register lower production of cotton breaking the five year record of mounting yield that reached its zenith in 2007-08 with 310 lakh bales.

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