BHAWANIPATNA/NUAPADA:Even as Kalahandi is one of the largest cotton growing districts in the State, local farmers are finding it difficult to sell their produce at the minimum support price (MSP). Farmers are forced to resort to distress sale and they blame the State Government for the situation.
Only two mandis are operational in the district for procuring cotton as a result of which, they sell their produce to traders, who are encashing on the situation. Against the target of 55,000 hectares (ha) of land, cotton was grown over 53,000 ha in the district this year. With each ha giving a yield of eight to 10 quintals, the targeted yield has been fixed at about five lakh quintals. The MSP for cotton this season has been fixed at `4,160 per quintal. Sources said only two mandis are operating at Karlapada and Utkela exposing the farmers to private traders, who have already started purchasing cotton at price much less than the MSP.
With majority of the farmers availing both institutional and private loan for cotton cultivation, they are in a hurry to repay the loan to avoid payment of interest. Cotton cultivation was initiated in Kalahandi in the 70s and it brought in new horizons. Over the years, it turned out to be the major cash crop. Apparently, Kalahandi was a paddy growing area till agricultural scientists introduced cash crops like cotton, onion and pulses. As weather and soil condition is suitable for cotton cultivation, government hoped to improve economic condition of farmers through it.
However, in the absence of marketing facilities and support from Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), farmers have failed to gain from the crop.
Deputy Director, Agriculture, Laxman Paltasingh said more mandis will be made operational shortly.