Haryana has a long history of cotton production and was once a major cotton producing region. In fact, the handloom industry of Panipat evolved in Haryana because of the cotton being grown here. Within Haryana, Hissar district is known as the main cotton growing region.
However, Haryana has been steadily losing its area under cotton cultivation, thereby losing an opportunity to improve the income potential for farmers in the state. India is today standing as the second largest grower of cotton in the world and the largest exporter; therefore, it would have been natural to expect that with Haryana's rich history as a cotton growing centre, the cotton industry would be thriving. Alas, that's not the case. Thanks to poor planning and lack of support from the Hooda administration, the area under cotton production has actually come down.
A decade of cotton under Hooda administration
In 2004-05, around the time the present Chief Minister took over, the land area under cultivation of cotton was 6.21 lakh hectares. The production was 16.50 lakh bales of 170 kg cotton. The yield per hectare was 452 kgs.
Compare this with 2013-14, where the area under cotton cultivation was 5.66 lakh hectares, the production at 23 lakh bales of 170 kgs, and the yield per hectare at 691 kgs.
The comparative figures show that the land area under cotton cultivation declined by 0.55 lakh hectare or 8.85% since the Chief Minister took over office. Now if you see the production comparison, one can see an increase of 6.5 lakh bales or an increase of around 40%, despite the land area reducing by 8.85%. This was largely due to the yield per hectare increasing dramatically by 239 kgs or an increase of 53%.
A lost opportunity
So, what do the above figures tell you? It's obvious that there has been a dramatic improvement in the yield per hectare at 691 kgs per hectare. Now if the yield per hectare improved so dramatically, how and why did this Hooda administration allow the total land area to decline by 0.55 lakh hectare?
In other words, had the land continued to remain the same, through the Hooda administration, the production of cotton would have been 691 (kgs) x 0.55 (lakh hectares) = 3.80 crore kgs more cotton. This is the opportunity cost that the present government has had to pay from 2005 till date, for allowing the total area under cotton cultivation to decline.
So, why did the Hooda government allow this to happen in the first place, when the yield per hectare was going up dramatically? Any logical person would have increased the area under cultivation.
People of the state want to know why did the state government not promote additional areas to be brought under cotton cultivation instead of letting it reduce? Imagine the prosperity it would have brought to the farmers of the region given that Haryana had a history of strong cotton production.
The Chinese miracle
This is even more relevant, when you compare the China story on cotton production with India's. China has used the latest in cotton growing techniques including widespread adoption of BT Cotton, since the early 90s. Today the land area under cotton cultivation in China is half that of India but produces more than 2.5 times the cotton!
This only shows the potential for improvement in cotton yield per hectare in India. There is no doubt that with each year India s output per hectare will improve, which brings back the point as to why did the Hooda administration lose the initiative to increase the cotton cultivation instead of letting it decline? Isn't this denial of opportunity to the state?
It's not the cotton growers alone who are affected but lakhs of people who are associated directly and indirectly with the handloom and other related cotton based industries. A decline in cotton producing area, is a decline in opportunity for employment.
The last decade could well have seen an expansion of cotton cultivation and by extension, the finished apparel industry, growing exponentially with Haryana reclaiming its lost glory as a prime cotton producer it once was. In those days, cotton products from Hansi and Meham would be exported to all parts of the globe. But does this administration even care?
The way forward
The vision for Naya Haryana is job creation. This means that we will have to explore ways to build around the core strengths of Haryana, keeping in mind its rich heritage and focus on areas that have maximum potential for growth. Cotton is definitely one such area. But to make this happen, we will have to concentrate on areas that have been ignored by the present administration and that is to increase the area under cotton cultivation.
Furthermore, we need to focus on bringing more areas under high yielding cotton, streamline high yielding cotton seed distribution to farmers, bring more farmers under direct training on the latest cotton growing techniques, establish model farms to demonstrate the benefits of high yielding cotton growing techniques, increase cotton processing units in the state.
This has to be backed by special incentives to entrepreneurs such as subsidised land for establishing apparel and finished cotton product units in dedicated industrial parks that will be located in the cotton growing regions of Haryana.
We need to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth and show them that it is profitable to grow cotton as a career, as also setting up units for finished cotton products. There are enough opportunities in Haryana to make it a prosperous state. All it needs is some initiative, creative imagination, motivation and most of all political will.
If our party can begin to transform India in such a short time, then there is no reason why we cannot do the same in Haryana. We welcome you to come forward and join hands in building a Naya and prosperous Haryana.