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Abstract

Cotton is India’s main cash crop. It contributes to the livelihood of 60 million people and accounts for 30 percent of the country’s agricultural domestic product (Barwale et al., 2004). Total cotton acreage in India is estimated at 9 million hectares, the largest in the world (Gandhi, 2006). About 65 percent of cotton production activities are rainfed and subject to the vagaries of weather. Cotton is grown in nine states, spread over three agroclimatic zones with different planting schedules. Planting usually ends by the first week of June in northern regions (Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan), by mid-August in the central region (Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh), and by the first week of September in parts of the south (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu). A small summer cotton crop in the south (Tamil Nadu) is planted in January and February (FAS, 2006).

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