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Ginning mills shut down in Bankapur

Crop infestation, unfavorable weather conditions, and farmers favouring petty merchants put ginning mills out of business.

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Women working at the mill.
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Mill workers.
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Lalitha, another mill worker.
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MM Kurdugi in his cotton ginning mill.


Bangalore, November 24, 2017: Eleven ginning mills have closed down in the past two years in Bankapur, Shiggaon taluk said Prakash Aladakatti, an agricultural consultant. Prakash Aladakatti, said, "BT cotton is getting infested and there's a reddening of the cotton crop. There has also been a 60 per cent loss due to bad weather this year."

 He added that most of the ones that still function are running losses. Farmers selling their stock to petty merchants instead of the mill owners and unfavorable weather conditions are the reasons cited for this situation.
B. Suresh, a farmer, said, "We must adapt to modern technology in agriculture. However, BT cotton is just getting spoilt easily. Better hybrids must be made."

“Last year, we produced 500 kgs and this year we only produced 250 kgs of BT cotton. Labour costs are rising and also there are issues with electricity supply. It’s a dying business. We’re going to shut down soon,” said MM. Kurugodi, owner of Renukachara ginning mill. Mr. Kurugodi said is going to switch to other crops for a living.

 “The farmers find it tiresome to sell their cotton stock in bulk to the mill owners. They’re instead selling the stock little bit at a time to petty merchants to earn better. This is the first reason for the downfall of ginning mills in Bankapur. The second reason is that the seed separated from cotton in the ginning process is not being sold; earlier it used to be sold to companies that crushed it to extract cotton oil. However, these companies are not trading in Shiggaon taluk anymore,” Mr.Prakash explained.

Mr. Prakash has been involved as a consultant in the setting up of ginning mills in Bankapur for over a decade. He has witnessed the rise and fall of the mills for over seven years. He saw two new mills being set up in Bankapur from 2010-2011; from 2013-2014 eight more were established; 2015 spawned five more new ones.   It is from 2016 that the mills started closing down one after the other.

BB. Kurugodi, a former mill owner, said, “After 2016 there was nothing but losses. Mills were shutting down left and right.”
Basavaraj Bommai, MLA in Shiggaon taluk, said, “Millers should concentrate on technology. Technology is the key to running such enterprises.”

The quality of the stock also seems to be deteriorating. The cotton balls are being infested and are turning red in color. This renders the seeds inside useless and the cotton is also wasted. “It is due to excessive use of pesticides and chemicals in cotton farming,” said Basuraj Gangananavar, an assistant officer at the Agriculture department in Bankapur.
Hadega Ashoka, professor of Department of Biotechnology from DMC college, said, "BT cotton is susceptible to diseases. The insects get resistant to BT cotton over a period of time. This is why the cotton is getting infested in Bankapur's ginning mills and resulting in wastage."

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