Productivity of cotton in the country continues to remain well below the world average productivity mark, top officials of the Cotton Association of India (CAI) said.
As per the latest estimates of the Directorate of Cotton Development (DOCD), the acreage under cotton is expected to go down to about 105 lakh hectare during 2016-17 from 118.77 lakh hectares during 2015-16.
However, due to the improvement in productivity expected on account of better weather conditions across all cotton growing regions of the country, India expects to produce about 345 lakh bales during 2016-17.
However, looking at the initiatives taken by the government and continued research by scientists, one can hope that India would soon achieve the world average productivity mark, Dhiren Seth, ex-president of the Association said.
Seth who has been the president of the association for 8 years said the production of cotton in the country which had reached a record high of over 4 crore bales during the 2013-14 crop year fell to about 386 lakh bales in 2014-15, he said,adding that the production of cotton in the country declined further during the 2015-16 crop year to around 338 lakh bales, the lowest during the last five years.
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This drastic reduction in the crop during 2015-16 was mainly due to the whitefly attack especially in the northern region, he said.Cotton prices sought lower levels almost during the entire 2015-16 cotton season, resulting in lower realisation of prices by farmers for their produce.
This has led to a reduction of over 10% in the acreage under cotton during 2016-17, Seth said.
“The world-over, trading of cotton is done on the basis of quality parameters. In order to be in sync with this trading norm and looking to its crop size, our country requires a huge boost in infrastructure. Our association has set up eleven laboratories across the country, with one more laboratory in the pipeline.
Apart from providing cotton testing facilities to the cotton community at various cotton growing centres locally in a cost effective manner, these laboratories also work as regional centres of our Association and provide other services to the cotton sector in their respective regions,” he said.
Seth said that globally, cotton is losing its share in textile manufacturing because of the stiff competition it faces from polyester and other manmade fibres.
In order to arrest the declining trend of cotton consumption, countries like USA, Australia and Brazil have effective demand enhancement programmes.
The Association has also embarked on the generic promotion of cotton and as a medium through School Contact Programmes (SCP). In the pilot phase of SCP, we covered 20 English medium schools in Mumbai across all boards and targeted school children of fifth to seventh standards to create awareness amongst them about cotton and to familiarise them about the benefits of cotton. We have successfully completed the pilot of the SCP this year, he said.