India's cotton yield among lowest in the world: CAI

Employees unload cotton from a truck at a cotton processing unit in Kadi town, in the western Indian state of Gujarat. (Reuters photo)

India's cotton productivity level is now among the lowest in the world, according to the Cotton Association of India (CAI). 

"Cotton productivity level in India has increased from around 300 kg/hectare in the year 2002-03 to near 500 kg/hectare currently. However, it is still among the lowest in the world," CAI President Atul S Ganatra said addressing the 97th AGM of the CAI. With the average productivity of 2028 kg/ha, Australia is on the top. 

"Even smaller countries like Syria, Myanmar, Pakistan have higher cotton productivity than India. India is striving hard to improve its cotton productivity level through the implementation of High-Density Planting and efficient and better protection from pest infestations. However, we need to be more efficient and effective in improving resource management to achieve higher productivity," Ganatra said sounding a cautionary note.

According to him, although Indian cotton has excellent intrinsic value, yet contamination, mixing, excess moisture due to pouring of water and poor bale packaging drastically reduce its value. 

"No wonder then that our cotton sells at 8-10% discounts compared to other competing growths in the international market," he said. 

Counting the plus points, he said the cotton sector in India has made steady progress over the years. About 1/3rd of the world's total cotton acreage is in India which grows around 21% of the world's total cotton production. The large scale adoption of Bt. Cotton and implementation of the Technology Mission on Cotton have transformed the country from a chronic importer to the second-largest exporter of cotton in the world. 

"India has been the world's topmost cotton producer, until recently when China took over this coveted position from us. However, this year again we are likely to take back our rightful position of being the largest cotton producer in the world as we are expecting a reasonably good crop this year," Ganatra noted.

He said India is the world's largest producer of organic cotton producing over 50% of the world's total organic production.  

In order to ensure the genuineness and quality of organic production systems, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is supervising and certifying organic products including cotton through National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP).

Although, India is a surplus cotton economy, yet its surplus cotton availability is decreasing year after year. "There is an urgent need for addressing the issue of depleting production and productivity of cotton in India as it is in the interest of the entire cotton value chain to have more cotton in our backyard. Friends, as you all know, there is limited scope for increasing the acreage under cotton in India beyond a limit and therefore, our focus area should be to increase productivity level. This will also help our country to double the farmer's income," said Ganatra.

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