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Excess moisture content hampering cotton procurement: CCI

Excess moisture content hampering cotton procurement: CCI

The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) said the agency is well prepared for the procurement of cotton in north India but due to the excess moisture in the just harvested crop, the government is not facilitating its premature procurement.

CCI Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Pradeep Kumar Agarwal told IANS that the new cotton crop has nearly 20 to 22 per cent moisture while the agency buys cotton only when the moisture content is between eight to 12 per cent.

According to the CCI data, nearly 3.12 lakh bales of the cotton crop (170 kg in one bale) had arrived in the Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan markets by October 6 but only 2,311 bales of cotton were procured by the agency.

Pradeep Agarwal, after addressing a press conference on the purchase of Kharif crops, told IANS in New Delhi on Wednesday that the standard for moisture content has been set at eight per cent for the purchase of cotton by the CCI, on the basis of which farmers get the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce. However, the MSP is cut for every one per cent of excess moisture content. The CCI does not buy cotton when the moisture in it exceeds 12 per cent.

"The CCI has started procuring cotton in Punjab and Haryana and the crop which is in conformity with the set standard is being procured at the MSP," he added.

For the current cotton season 2020-21 (October-September), the Central government has fixed the MSP for cotton (long fibre) at Rs 5,825 per quintal and for cotton (medium fibre) at Rs 5,515 per quintal. Agarwal said the CCI is buying both the varieties of cotton.

However, farmers in Punjab and Haryana are forced to sell the new cotton crop at a much lower price than the MSP as they need money for sowing the next crop.

Asked by IANS during the press conference on the buying of cotton, Union Ministry of Textiles Secretary, Ravi Capoor said the CCI buys cotton as per the prescribed standard and the crop will be procured by the agency as per the acceptable moisture content.

"As per the guidelines of the Ministry of Agriculture, the FAQ (Fair Average Quality) was fixed. For cotton, 12 per cent moisture is acceptable under the FAQ. No farmer can claim that CCI did not buy cotton at less than 12 per cent moisture. If there is any complaint against the agency refusing to purchase cotton at less than 12 per cent moisture, it should be immediately brought to our notice," Capoor added.

He said there are 17 centres for the purchase of cotton in Haryana while there are 21 in Punjab and none of the centres is located more than 15 to 20 km away from the farmers' fields. The agency will buy cotton as long as the farmers continue to bring cotton as per the prescribed standard, Capoor added.

The CCI procured a record 105.14 lakh bales of cotton in the last cotton season 2019-20 and for the current season 2020-21 the agency has set a target of procuring 125 lakh bales of cotton. During the last season 2019-20, the government had purchased cotton worth Rs 28,500 crore from the farmers while this year a target has been set to buy cotton worth Rs 35,000 crore.

According to the government's estimate, last year's cotton production in the country was 357 lakh bales while this year it is estimated to be nearly 360 lakh bales..