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Indian scientists grow eco-friendly coloured cotton
Dec '11
Scientists at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, have successfully grown coloured cottons, which they term as 'economical' and 'eco-friendly'.

The new variety will be economical as it does away with the need for processing and dyeing at yarn and fabric making stages. The latest variety is also eco-friendly as it does away with the need to use carcinogenic dye chemicals in the fabric, while minimizing the toxic effluents from the dyeing industries.

Fibre2fashion spoke to Dr. Shreekant S Patil, Senior Cotton Breeder and Dr. Manjula Maralappanavar, Senior Scientist (Plant Breeding), All India Co-ordinated Cotton Improvement Project (AICCIP) of UAS, Dharwad, who have been instrumental in developing the new coloured variety of cotton.

“The earlier coloured cotton varieties in India were very poor with respect to yield and fibre quality, and hence were not commercially viable either for cultivation or for the use in textile industry. In 1996, research activities were initiated to improve these and to make them useful, under an already running project funded by the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI),” the scientists said.

“The new variety is not genetically modified. The coloured cottons are improved through conventional breeding/genetic improvement by using the improved white linted genotypes for crossing. It involves more than a decade's effort and is still a continuous process,” they added.

Apprising about the qualities, they stated,” The coloured cottons have been improved for fibre quality and yield potential to make it possible to use them for machine spinning and for diverse fabric production. However, they have to be and are being further improved for fibre quality.”

Mentioning about the colours, they say, “We have shades of brown and one green colour. Efforts are on to transfer the genes from flowering plants (petunia and snapdragon) in the direction to diversify the colours, but it would take a long time.”

Listing the advantages, they inform, “The coloured cottons would be ecologically and economically very viable because no dyes are used and there would be no processing also. These can be directly used for spinning and weaving. Hence, these have a very good potential in this eco-aware and organic era. For the same reason, these also have large export potential.”

However, some care needs to be taken while undertaking mass commercial production. “Coloured cottons have to be grown in isolation from white cottons, as they can contaminate white cotton upon crossing. It can be made possible by growing them in isolated patches/villages. Also, the buy back arrangement has to be done in advance as these cannot be sold in open markets. They have to be cultivated under the technical supervision to maintain isolation and see that there is no seed pilferage. To take care of these points, a link has to be developed between the growers, industry and UAS, Dharwad,” they suggested.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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