Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Jun 02, 2004
Agri-Biz & Commodities - Cotton
Super Spinning cottons on to farmers directly
Coimbatore , June 1
THE city-based Super Spinning Mills Ltd is all out to woo farmers to take to cotton cultivation.
The consuming unit's seriousness in encouraging farming groups to grow cotton is aimed at sourcing `clean' cotton from the domestic market, instead of relying on imports.
Concerned about the shrinking area under cotton in the State, the company made a decisive move last year by reassuring its support to the growers, both in pricing and buyback. The company identified about 1,120 acres in Salem district (for summer cotton cultivation) and 1,283 acres in Coimbatore district and 150 acres in Vellore district (for kharif crop).
The mill extended technical support and supplied seeds to the members covered under the Integrated Cotton Cultivation programme. This support gave cushion for those growers, who had intended to give up cotton cultivation because of the prolonged drought and poor returns on the produce.
The entry of Super Spinning in agriculture extension efforts appears to have enthused growers, who have now joined hands to supply cotton direct to the mill, instead of depending on the middlemen/trader to market the produce. ``It is a win-win situation for both. We are able to source `clean' cotton (less trash content and pertaining to a specified variety) and the grower, a better return,'' says Mr K.R. Seethapathy, Chief Operating Officer, Super Spinning Mills Ltd.
A study made by the mill showed that the trash content was halved to 2 per cent and the contamination, negligible at one gm per bale as against 18 gm/bale in the cotton sourced from the market. The farmer was able to get a premium of Rs 200 to Rs 300/quintal, and the payment was made within three days of kapas procurement.
Within a span of two years, the cotton growers' membership with the company has swelled to 1,795. The company is today sourcing cotton from these farmers, whose total land holdings is expected to touch a high of 6,000 acres.
Speaking to Business Line, Mr Seethapathy said the mill's requirement was much more than the area covered at present. "We have a long way to go. We will have to source our requirement from four times the area covered at the moment. Our ultimate aim is to reach this level, hopefully by 2006."
Besides MCU 5, Surabhi and the company's own hybrid Sara 2, Super Spinning is also contemplating to encourage farmers raise short staple varieties, the COO said and indicated that they would, with the help of the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), Coimbatore, identify pockets for organic cultivation of cotton.
``We want to try Bt cotton (from Rasi Seeds) in 500 to 600 acres,'' Mr Seethapathy said.
On seed availability, he said that the position was comfortable at the moment.
To a query on pricing, Mr Seethpathy conceded that pricing was a major issue. ``There are so many indices. The traders can change it everyday. We are trying to find an ideal solution to this ticklish issue''.
According to him, this concept of extension support to the farming community would be advantageous for the industry only in the long-term. ``The Government could support the farmers by extending subsidy on seed and other inputs, at least for the time being. This support is basically to achieve the common goal - enhance productivity and ensure better returns.''
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