Cotton remains among the crop favourites this kharif season despite the pink worm infestation, while groundnut acreage is set to go down. Experts say low sowing area for oilseeds would mean lesser production and in turn, a likely price hike in 2024.
The overall 10-year acreage average for the total kharif sowing area in the state was 85.97 lakh hectares. This year it was 86.09 lakh hectares, slightly more than 85.74 lakh hectares in 2022.
Data for 2023 on the final kharif crop acreage shows that while sowing in the state was 100%, oil seeds saw a 6.5% decline. Against the 10-year average of 28.71 lakh hectares, oilseed sowing in 2023 was 26.84 lakh hectares, a marginal decline compared to 27.18 lakh hectares during the 2022 kharif season.
Officials said cotton prices in 2023 remained high. Expecting the trend to continue, farmers sowed more of the crop despite the pink worm infestation.
According to the Cotton Association of India (CAI), the upcoming season’s crop arrival is expected to be at 318.9 lakh bales (54.2 tonnes). Prices have remained at the level of Rs 60,000 per candy (356kg) in local markets and have remained stable. Even though cotton sowing has gone up, analysts predict that prices are expected to remain under pressure as the overall arrivals may not be in line with expectations. This is primarily because of damage to the crop in northern India due to the pink worm infestation.
“Cotton acreage is expected to reduce by 5% due to a dry spell. If the quality of crops suffers or the arrivals reduce, then prices may further go up. Going by current estimates, prices are expected to be stable in the coming days. While groundnut sowing has declined, cotton and jeera sowing have increased as the prices were on the higher side,” said a cotton trader.
“Export demand is less at the moment due to a recessionary trend in the US and Europe – which are key export markets for the Indian textile industry. A weaker demand will erode margins of industry players including weavers and processors. This is because prices of other raw materials have shot up significantly. Moreover, with weak demand, industry players will not be able to pass on costs to end consumers, which will impact their profit margins,” said Naresh Sharma, secretary, Maskati Cloth Merchants Association.