Improving productivity is the only way to ensure that the increasing cotton requirements of the industry are met. He observed that cotton accounts for over 60 per cent of fibre consumption in the country and over 80 per cent of fibre consumption in export production.
Explaining cotton productivity in the country, Mr. Arumugam stated that from about 200 kg per hectare in 1980s productivity reached 300 kg per hectare in 1990s. A combination of agricultural extension activities under government’s Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC) and introduction of BT technology during the beginning of 21st century has helped to achieve sustainable productivity of around 500 kg per hectare.
Currently about 90 per cent of the area under cotton in the country uses BT seeds and the BT seeds have contributed substantially to improvement and sustainability of productivity in the country. Mr. Arumugam added that while resistance of BT seeds to American Bollworm has played a major role in the improvement in productivity during the last 10 years, there are other pests and other issues that need to be tackled for a quantum jump in the productivity in the coming years.
World average in cotton productivity is nearly 800 kg per hectare and concerted efforts are required to take Indian productivity to somewhere near that. He added that the National Fibre Policy envisages that by the end of the current decade the requirement of cotton in the country will be over 48 million bales as against the current production of around 34 million bales.
In addition to protection from pests, weed management and irrigation are major areas to be tackled for achieving this level of production. For this it is essential that all available modern technology is used for seed development as well as plant management in the cotton farming sector.
Mr. Arumugam requested government to focus on using technology for improving cotton productivity. He also stressed the need for providing formal bank credit at affordable cost to the farmers in order to tackle distress among cotton farmers and enable them to adopt modern technology for improving productivity and increasing their income from cotton farming.
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