The impact of COVID-19 on the economy is no doubt devastating and its impact on agriculture is complex and varied across diverse segments that form the agricultural value chain. The migration of workers from few parts to their native places has also triggered panic buttons, as they are crucial for both harvesting operations and post-harvest handling of produce in storage and marketing centers.
Global Cotton Scenario during the pandemic period
Indian cotton scenario was not deterred by the pandemic as the production was 6.3 mill MT when compared to 6.4 mill MT during 2019 but at the world level, there was seven per cent decline. Brazil and India showed marked increase in export during the same period. At world level, cotton export was registered at 7.78 oer cent increase, 8.9 per cent increase in cotton imports and no effect on the cotton consumption scenario in almost all the major cotton consuming countries like China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Vietnam otc. in 2020 as that of the previous year.
Domestic Cotton Scenario during pandemic period
There was a decline of 2.79 per cent in cotton area planted in cotton growing States of India. 1.64 per cent increase in cotton production and 4.91 per cent increase in cotton yield during 2020-21 as that of previous year 2019-20. There was a drastic reduction in the cotton arrivals to the tune of 31.6 per cent during the pandemic period as a result of lockdown resulting in labour and transport problems combined with fewer prices for cotton. There has been an increase in cotton price to the tune of 11.25 per cent during 2020-21 as compared to 2019-20.
District wise Cotton Scenario during pandemic period
In North Zone a total of 317 cotton farmers were contacted in person for the data collection from 77 cotton farmers of six districts in Punjab. 167 farmers of five districts in Haryana and 73 farmers of three districts in Rajasthan In case of Central Zone, 120 farmers from four districts in Maharashtra. 250 farmers from eight districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, 40 from Dharwad district of Karanataka and 90 from four districts of Tamil Nadu in South Zone. Analysis confirmed that though the area sown had decreased, there was no impact on cotton production or marketing due to lockdown In North Zone, inputs were sufficient and easily available to 100 per cent of the famers excepting for irrigation wherein 5.39 per cent of the farmers faced shortage not due to pandemic but the dependability on canal irrigation (Nehri Pam) water In Central Zone, most of the cotton farmers expressed that there was no difficulty in getting seed for sowing during 2020-21. There was a little difficulty in getting fertilizer and their transportation due to Covid 19. Labour availability for loading and unloading and its transport was the major impediment in the Southern Zone. It is to be stressed at this juncture that in the Covid-19 pandemic year, the cotton value chain, like others, had faced unprecedented disruptions.
Socio-technologicai analysis of drip irrigation in cotton cultivation
Field survey was conducted in two districts of Maharashtra states Viz., Jalgaon and Jalna. Major research observations made about drip irrigation from the districts are; a) extending cotton crop beyond the season is a common feature in the two districts. Tire reasons for extending the crop as reported by farmers are; (i) if the main cotton crop does not gives good yield they extend the crop to get some additional yield, (ii) since water is not available for a second crop they are extending the period of cotton crop, (iii) additional yield during the extended period gives additional profit for them. Regarding the second crop; where ever the water availability is more farmers go for any one short duration crop followed by cotton. Majority of the farmers are cultivating cotton with a spacing of 5×3/5×2/4×3, average number of drippers for one acre is 6000-7000 and the general discharge level of drip irrigation system differing from 2 LPH to 12 LPH, It was observed that extension of the crop beyond the season and late sowing, led to increased pink bollworm infestation in majority of the farmers’ field. Majority of the farmers prefer cotton cultivation because, cotton is the only crop that gives some yield even under drought condition other crops are very sensitive to drought. Average yield in the study area as reported by the farmers under rainfed condition is 3-4 q/ac and that under drip irrigation is 8-9 q/ac.
Major constraints reported by the cotton drip farmers beyond the regular constraints like clogging and rat bite are; a) comparatively less subsidy amount from the government majority of the farmers going bank loan for drip installation and the banks are providing the loans under term loan basis for five years, b) Whether they irrigate or not, once farmers get EB connection they have to pay Rs. 5000 per year as electricity cost to the government c) the farmers received electricity only for 8 hours per day and the time schedule also change each week. Therefore, farmers have to go for irrigation even during the night time based on the electricity availability.
Further, the data analysis of socio technological status of Tamil Nadu state revealed that majority of the small and marginal farmers are adopting drip irrigation for cotton cultivation. The reason may be that the subsidy amount for small and marginal farmers is comparatively more. Majority’ of old age category farmers (55%) are adopting drip irrigation mor? when compared to middle (41%) and young (3%) farmers. Majority of the farmers 62.5% had 2 to 8 years experience in drip irrigation. The impact analysis indicated significant impact of drip irrigation on yield efficiency, income efficiency, water use efficiency, labour use efficiency and input use efficiency. The constraint analysis revealed that majority (91%) of the farmers reported that clogging of emitters is the foremost problem in drip irrigation followed by rat biting (72%) and high investment despite subsidy (68%).