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Business News/ News / India/  India plans cotton technology mission for improving quality as part of 100 days agenda
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India plans cotton technology mission for improving quality as part of 100 days agenda

The move is aimed at increasing the production of high-quality cotton by following best agriculture practices to position India as a prime destination for textile sourcing and investment.

Scheduled to span five years from 2024, the project's financial allocation and other policy frameworks will be finalized in the first 100 days of the new government. (REUTERS)Premium
Scheduled to span five years from 2024, the project's financial allocation and other policy frameworks will be finalized in the first 100 days of the new government. (REUTERS)

New Delhi: The Union textiles ministry is gearing up to launch a revamped Cotton Technology Mission aimed at improving the quality and output of India's "white gold" by adopting best practices that could position India as a prime destination for textile sourcing and foreign investment, two people aware of the matter said.

This mission is designed to reduce dependence on imports for this crucial raw material for fibre, and to increase the incomes of India's more than 6 million cotton farmers, they said.

Also read: Centre to set up dedicated test labs in six states for Kasturi Cotton global brand push

Scheduled to span five years from 2024, the project's financial allocation and other policy frameworks will be finalized in the first 100 days of the new government, said one of the two people cited above.

India imports 500,000 bales of high-quality cotton, falling short of its required 900,000 bales. However, the government has set an ambitious target to significantly reduce these imports by 2030 through this proposed mission.

Also read: India issues quality orders on textiles to take on China

The ministry plans to conduct stakeholder consultations in the coming months. Given that a model code of conduct is in place, the government aims to utilize this period to finalize discussions and prepare a draft policy framework.

The textiles ministry will launch the revamped cotton technology mission in cooperation with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Cotton Association of India and different associations of ginners in the country.

Queries sent to spokespersons of the textiles ministry and ICAR remained unanswered till press time.

New tech focus

 

The policy will focus on introducing new technologies to reduce trash content, contamination levels, and enable real-time sample testing.

The proposed mission will focus on increasing cotton production by adopting best agricultural practices, using quality seeds, and implementing a high-density planting scheme. “It will be done through indigenous varieties of cotton seeds," the second person said.

“Two decades ago, when Bt cotton was introduced, farmers were optimistic about its potential for high yield, better market prices, and protection from insect attacks. However, as time passed, the increasing costs of inputs and the occurrence of crop failures have outweighed the perceived benefits of Bt cotton," said Kalyan Goswami, the director general of Agro Chem Federation of India.

“Replacing Bt cotton, which currently covers 95% of the cultivation area, would be a challenging task. One of the major hurdles would be the availability of Kasturi cotton seeds," said Goswami, who is also a former DG of the National Seed Association. 

“India is not yet prepared in that respect."

“Another challenge is the lack of patience, which has led to the premature termination of government initiatives, such as the goal of doubling farm income. Achieving a significant market share in the Indian cotton market with Kasturi cotton would require sustained efforts for at least 10-12 years, aiming to capture 25-30% of the market," Goswami added.

White gold

In recent years, India has witnessed a sharp decline in production of ‘white gold’ as per textile ministry data, annual production of cotton in 2017-18 was 37 million bales (170 kg each) that was reduced to 33 million bales next year. After a significant growth in 2019-20 (36 million bales), it reduced to 35 million bales in 2020-21 and 31 million in 2021-22. Total production of cotton in 2022-23 was 34.7 million bales.

However, it is estimated that production may shrink at 31.6 million bales in 2023-24.

Also read: Centre to set up labs for testing marquee textiles meant for exports

The ministry is also focusing on increasing footprints in technical textiles, which is a growing market. Currently, India is exporting technical textiles, including medical apparels, to the tune of $2.5 billion and set a growth target of $10 billion in the next 5 years.

India's textile exports declined to $34.40 billion in FY24 due to geopolitical tensions.

Textile and apparel exports, which were under stress for more than a year, grew 6.91 % year-on year in March. 

 

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Published: 25 Apr 2024, 05:31 PM IST
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