Not making the grade

Not making the grade Flawed grading prevents Vidarbha cotton farmers from getting the highest-ever support price

On December 4, some 200 farmers arrived at the cotton procurement centre in Yavatmal tehsil of Maharashtra, with about 60 tonnes of cotton loaded in carts and tractor trolleys. They demanded the minimum support price (msp) of Rs 3,000 per 100 kg promised by the Centre.

This sent the employees of the Maharashtra Cotton Federation, the nodal body for procuring cotton in the state, in a tizzy. While farmers said their cotton had the average fibre length, also called staple length, of 28 mm required to qualify for the rate of Rs 3,000 per 100 kg, the federation employees argued that the micronear quality of the cotton, indicating strength, fell short of the standard. After a heated debate, one trolley-load of cotton was procured at Rs 3,000.The federation promised to send samples of the remaining cotton to Nagpur for tests.
Suryakant Gade Patil, the president of the state marketing board called the Agriculture Produce Market Committee in Yavatmal tehsil, who led the farmers, alleged the procurement centre in Pandharkawda tehsil of Yavatmal district was paying farmers Rs 3,000 per 100 kg without quality check, while elsewhere in the state farmers were getting a lower rate for good quality cotton. One of the three farmers of Yavatmal tehsil who had sold their cotton at Pandharkawda for Rs 3,000 per 100 kg, Sheshrao Pawar admitted,

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