The farming community comprising of mainly small and marginal farmers growing cotton in rice fallow for a considerable period have been considered for organic cotton cultivation. These sorts of initiatives have been taken up by KVK from the last year in the island situation because of huge dearth of virgin land in main land situation, preferable for organic cultivation. Again, the small land holding (average 0.13 ha/farmer) hinders the organic cotton cultivation in a compact area. Though it has been started in scattered way and hopefully in long run, it will take a good shape.
During rabi-summer season, due to huge scarcity of irrigation water accentuated with soil salinity, no crop was possible and the lands remained fallow. In this situation, KVK took the initiative to utilize the fallow lands by introducing cotton in rice fallow as the crop can tolerate little bit salinity and requires less or no irrigation for its deep root system. To sustain the system, a number of trials on variety, spacing, fertilizer and pest management etc. had been conducted by KVK. It has been proved that cotton is one of the most important second crop for rice fallow of South 24-Parganas district.
Farmers apart from economic benefits are also benefited by different ways through cotton cultivation.
1. They are getting certain amount of profit from cotton without leaving the land fallow
2. Cropping intensity is being increased by adopting crop intensification programme with the introduction of cotton.
3. Cotton leaves fallen in the fields increases the organic content of the soil which in turn reduce the soil salinity and can improve the crop production for the next cropping season.
4. The farm women are interested in cotton cultivation as the dry sticks of cotton can be used for fuel purposes during rainy season when the scarcity is high.
5. Each and every part of cotton plant like leaves, dry sticks, bracts and roots are being utilized by the cotton farmers. Barc is utilized for handicraft products and the roots for medicinal value. And KVK has developed a marketing system to market these products.
At present the total cotton produced in South 24-Parganas district and even in North 24-Parganas district is purchased by Cotton Corporation of India, Kolkata, with the help of our KVK. This type of marketing linkage was developed by KVK in the late 90’s and till date CCI has taken the responsibility to procure the same. To improve the marketing procedure, a large cotton godown with modern ginning facilities has been set up in KVK where all of our farmers used to bring their produce, grade it with CCI personnel and sale it with the rate fixed by the Govt. of India. There is no chance of any intervention of middleman and farmers enjoy the actual rate. Whole process is monitored and supervised by our KVK cotton extension personnel and scientists.
For organic cotton, a number of issues like certification procedure, marketing system etc. have been discussed with different agencies like Agrocel, Gujarat, Roots and Yards etc., but it has not yet been materialized because of less availability of organic cotton. In future, Fair Trade Cotton Marketing System will also be developed and for this purpose initial discussion is going on.
Source: Shri Dipankar Shah and Shri Nilendu Jyoti Maitra,
KVK,Nimpith Ashram, West Bengal.