Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have sown more cotton this kharif season as against the corresponding period last year on account of a possible labour shortage in future. Both governments have discouraged farmers from growing rice, officials told The Hindu.
Agriculture Department Director Sutantar Airi said, Cotton has already been sown in nearly 3.6 lakh hectare, which is around 10,000 hectare more than the corresponding period of last year.
In Haryana, farmers had sown cotton in 5.11 lakh hectares till May 19. Last year, the area under cotton cultivation up to the same period was 4.2 lakh hectares, according to the government data.
Cotton is a less labour intensive crop than paddy (rice). Farmers are currently sowing cotton as they are apprehensive about the return of the migrant labour by June-July, said Rakesh Rathi, former president of India Cotton Association Limited.
In Punjab and Haryana, Bt cotton is sown in over 95% of the total area under cotton cultivation, the remaining 5% usually has indigenous (desi) cotton varieties.
Farmers are preferring cotton wherever its feasible... the area under cotton cultivation will increase this season, said Gun Parkash, Bharatiya Kisan Unions Haryana unit president
Haryana Agriculture Department Joint Director Jagraj Dandi said, The government is discouraging sowing of water-guzzling rice and going for diversification. Labour shortage is another reason.