There is a good reason for Pakistan’s now-aborted plan to import cotton from India – this country’s burgeoning cotton exports.
India’s export of cotton grew by 106 percent in value from Rs. 3,425 crores in 2019 (April-December) to Rs. 7,044 crores in 2020 (April-December), according to a reply to the Rajya Sabha by the Ministry of Textiles on March 25, 2021.
In terms of volume, cotton exports reported a 127 percent increase over the same period. The growth comes despite the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions imposed by countries across the world last year.
India is one of the largest producers, consumers, and exporters of cotton in the world. The commodity plays a significant role in sustaining the livelihood of an estimated 5.8 million cotton farmers and 40-50 million people engaged in related activities such as cotton processing and trade, according to the Ministry of Textiles.
In another reply, Textiles Minister Smriti Irani told the Lok Sabha on March 19, 2021: “Special measures were taken by the Ministry in the COVID crisis to support liquidity flow to the textile industry, including cotton textile sector by introducing an option to release part subsidy against bank guarantee (BG) in facilitating the subsidy release process.”
The Minister said that “The average domestic price of cotton is cheaper by around 14 percent during the current cotton season as compared to the international cotton price,” while responding to a question whether Indian cotton exports are uncompetitive viz-a-viz global competitors like China, Vietnam, Bangladesh.
She added: “India is one of the largest exporters of cotton in the world. China, Vietnam, Bangladesh are not cotton exporting countries, but cotton importing countries.”
A new policy is being formulated for the overall promotion and development of the textile sector, the Minister had informed the Lok Sabha earlier in February this year.
Cotton is the backbone of the Indian textile industry, accounting for 60 percent of the industry’s raw material consumption basket. “The proposed textile policy envisages strong collaboration with (the) textile industry, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and various agriculture research institutes to improve the acreage, productivity and quality of the cotton,” she had said.
India occupies the first place in the world in cotton acreage with around 125.84 lakh hectares under cultivation, which is around 36 percent of the total world area.
About 62 percent of India’s cotton is produced in rain-fed areas and 38 percent on irrigated lands. During 2019-20, India’s productivity was 486.33 kg/ha (kilogram per hectare).
“In order to ensure the benefit of minimum support price (MSP) to large sections of cotton farmers, the Cotton Corporation of India Ltd., a Nodal agency under the Ministry of Textiles, is undertaking MSP operations of cotton in the event that prices of Fair Average Quality grade kapas fall below the MSP announced by the Government of India,” the Minister said in her reply on March 25.