Cotton millers of the district have opposed the fresh guidelines for procurement by the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI).Even as the CCI has increased minimum support price (MSP) of cotton by 30 per cent, it has also raised the lint percentage of the crop. Lint is separated from cotton seeds through ginning. The MSP of raw cotton has been increased from `4,350 per quintal to `5,540. Cotton crop arrives in the market for procurement from December to February.
As per the new procurement norm, lint content of crops harvested in December should be 31.1 per cent (pc), 31.7 pc in January and 32.40 pc in February. However, district members of Cotton Association of Odisha said the lint percentage in cotton crops grown in Rayagada has been gradually declining for the last three years to 28-30 pc. “The quality of the lint and fibres varies greatly due to seasonal conditions during cultivation and the way the crop is handled after harvest,” said B Laxman Rao, Rayagada representative of Cotton Association of Odisha.
The CCI purchases Fair Average Quality grade raw cotton from the farmers and gives it to ginning and pressing mills – selected through tender process – across Odisha to processes it into lint and cottonseed. CCI sources said if the crop does not meet the lint percentage, MSP cannot be assured.
“The present procurement guideline laid down by the CCI is not acceptable because the crop quality has been declining over the years,” Rao said. Earlier, the ginning and cotton mill owners had proposed to the CCI to consider 31 pc lint, 3 pc trash and 9 pc moisture as a unit to procure cotton but it was turned down by the higher authorities of the corporation.
Millers said there were no such conditions for cotton procurement earlier and the new norms will affect them as well as the farmers. As it is, ginning mill owners are getting 20 pc less ginning and pressing charges compared to other States, said Radha Krisha, a ginning mill owner here. There as 27 ginning and processing mills in Odisha and eight of them are in Rayagada.