The central government’s decision to increase the rate of Bt cotton seed from Rs 730 per packet (450 gm) to Rs 767 for the 2021-22 season has not gone down well among farmers in the state. Cotton growers in the Malwa belt (hub for cotton cultivation in the state) rued that an increase of Rs 37 per packet would add up to the already high input cost they have been grappling with for a long time now.
The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare has via notification confirmed the increase in the price of Bt cotton seed. On an average, the cotton cultivation on one acre requires minimum of three packets of Bt cotton seed.
A sizable number of cotton farmers after not getting remunerative prices for the produce were coerced to resort to paddy cultivation in the past few years. But after concerted efforts of the Agriculture Department, the area under cotton was increased to 81,000 hectare in Bathinda district in 2019-20. Following a bumper crop this season, both private as well as government procurement agencies made a record purchase of cotton on remunerative prices.
In the Malwa region, cotton is grown on a large scale in Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot, Abohar, Ferozepur, Barnala, Muktsar and Fazilka districts.
Balkaran Singh Balli, a leader of Punjab Kisan Sabha said, “Such moves are nothing but knee-jerk reactions of the Centre to pressure the farmers protesting the three agricultural laws. We won’t let such tactics succeed.”