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Cotton: A crop to bolster KBK farmers’ livelihood

Bhawanipatna is the only research centre for cotton in Odisha

Cotton, popularly known as ‘White Gold’ is grown as a commercial crop in upland rainfed conditions in the western and southern parts of Odisha.It is grown in an area of about 1.69 lakh ha with a production of 4.65 lakh bales of 170 kg each and productivity of 495 kg/ha in Odisha, whereas, the area, production and productivity in India is 122.38 lakh ha, 361.0 lakh bales and 501 kg/ha, respectively,during the year 2019-20.Among the four cotton species, Gossypium hirsutum is cultivated in the state.

Hybrids/ varieties having staple length of 30 mm and above are grown widely in the state. The important cotton growing districts of Odisha are Kalahandi, Bolangir, Rayagada and Nuapada, Ganjam, Sonepur, Gajapati, Boudh, Bargarh, Phulbani and Koraput. Though cotton cultivation in Kalahandi district was initiated during seventies but commercial cultivation was taken up in early part of eighties of the 20th century.

Gradually it was popularized among the farmers and the area increased to 60,000 ha during 2019-20, which was 35% of the total cotton area of the state.On an average, a farmer can earn Rs.1,10,000/- per hectare of cotton crop by spending Rs.40,000/-. The net profit per ha can be increased further if the productivity will be enhanced by adoption of modern scientific methods of cultivation and reducing the cost of cultivation.

Cotton is a kharif season crop requiring mean annual rainfall of at least 500 mm distributed throughout the growing season. The major soils of Kalahandi district are Red, Mixed Red and Black and Black which are suitable for cotton crop. Hence, the area under cotton in the district can be increased from 60,000 ha at present to 1,00,000 ha in coming years.

Cotton being a long duration crop is attacked by number of insect pest and diseases. High incidence of bollworms, sucking pests like jassids and mealy bug may create havoc in near future. Grey mildew, Parawilt and Bacterial leaf blight are the emerging diseases. Natural calamities like heavy rainfall in the month of July and August and cyclones during the month of September and October severely affect the cotton crop.

Farmers use hybrid seeds produced by different companies and every year change the seeds which causes fluctuation in yield levels. As there is no seed production programme in the state, farmers depend on other states for quality seeds.

Most of the cotton farmers are small to marginal having fragmented land holding which prevent the use of modern technologies and machineries. There is slow adoption of new technologies by farmers due to lack of awareness. Bt cotton, which is resistant to bollworms, is not officially allowed for cultivation in Odisha. So, farmers spend more on pesticides which increases the cost of cultivation. Large numbers of Bt hybrids lacking fibre quality information are cultivated in the state. Due to lack of appropriate policy for cultivation of Bt cotton in the state, no enforcement can be strictly adopted against the seed companies.

Cotton is grown as a rainfed crop and there is no facility for even life saving irrigation during dry spells. Productivity of cotton has been stagnating for the last few years due to mono-cropping of cotton in the same land for years and less use fertilizer and manures.Lack of storage godowns at times forces the farmers for distress sale of seed cotton.

Adequate number of ginning and spinning mills has not yet been constructed in the state which would have encouraged more cotton farmers for large scale production of cotton. Infrastructure for value addition like spinning mills, oil extraction mills or industries for using the cotton stovers for making particle boards etc. has not been established as there is no suitable policy in the state.

There is scope for expansion of area under cotton . Intercropping of pulses like red gram, black gram and oilseeds like soybean in cotton will increase the area of these crops in the kharif season, improve soil health and reduce the risk for the cotton crop. There is potential for organic cotton with assured procurement and good price. There is scope for increasing the productivity by adopting several extension activities like farmers training, Kissan Melas and demonstrations on frontier technologies by the State Agriculture Department and Krishi Vigyan Kendra.

All India Coordinated Research Project on Cotton operating in the Regional Research and Technology Transfer Station (RRTTS) of OUAT at Bhawanipatna is the only research centre for cotton in Odisha. Since its inception during the year 2001, many research works have been undertaken to cater to the need of the cotton farmers of the state. Apart from development of many breeding lines and germ plasms of cotton, research has also been conducted on crop production and protection aspects based on the problems faced by the farmers and recommendations are provided to the farmers through the Agriculture department.

New variety release proposals have been submitted to the Central Variety Release Committee One variety BS 279 has been released for cultivation by the State variety release committee of Odisha during the year 2019. For high density planting system, variety BS 30 has been identified for release during 2020 in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat, South Rajasthan and Odisha under irrigated and rainfed conditions. Once these varieties enter the seed chain, the farmers will be able to get the seeds at a lower price and the cost of cultivation will reduce to a great extent.

Extensive capacity building of the farmers and line department officials, field demonstrations, and establishment of ginning mills, spinning mills and textile industries by the Govt. and private sectors could boost the area, production and economy of the region.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own)

Dr.Chandramani Khanda

Associate Director of Research,

RRTTS, BHawanipatna

You can reach him:

[email protected]

Dr.Bhabani Shankar Nayak

Jr. Scientist (Agronomy) and Officer-in-Charge,

AICRP on Cotton, RRTTS, Bhawanipatna

You can reach him:

[email protected]

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