Interview with MM Chockalingam
MM Chockalingam
MM Chockalingam
Chairman & Managing Director
Cotton Corporation of India
Cotton Corporation of India

What needs to be done to further improve the quality of cotton produced in India?

With the efforts of Government of India through various measures like technology mission on cotton, integrated cotton cultivation, high density planting system, instrument based quality evaluation etc., India has become one of the largest cotton growing states with reasonably good quality of cotton. With enhanced research efforts made by the government, basic fibre parameters as well as quality of ginning and pressing have shown tremendous improvements except the issue of contamination. Due to this contamination issue, Indian cotton is sold on discounted rates in comparison to equivalent foreign cotton. The problem of contamination is significant at farm level due to small land holdings by the farmers, manual picking and different climatic condition in different states. Besides this, Indian cotton is also contaminated with various foreign materials like jute twine, dust, plastic, fibre, varietal admixture etc. due to poor handling at farm level and during processing of cotton in ginning and pressing factories. To produce contamination free cotton is now the biggest task for India.

The ministry of agriculture is making various efforts for providing necessary training to cotton farmers and issuing advisory notice at farm level to avoid contamination. In addition, the ministry of textiles is also taking this issue very seriously and proposed various measures in its 12th five year plan by reviving the Mini Mission (MM) III & IV under Technology Mission on cotton-II in such a way so that the least contaminated cotton may be available to the textile industry and farmers may get remunerative prices for their produce. Under MM-III besides developing the infrastructure of market yards, the focus is on providing training to farmers on modern farm practices and handling indigenous technology for plucking kapas faster without adding contamination through prototype kapas plucker machine. This will not only help farmers in reducing their input cost of labour, but will also prevent contamination at farm level. Under MM-IV, besides modernisation of ginning and pressing factories with sensors for removal of contamination, the focus is to introduce bale-by-bale third party testing/ certification system. Once it is implemented, these measures will ensure removal of contamination at all stage and Indian cotton will fetch better price and compete at world level with quality as per International standards.

How is the cotton sector of India performing in the current crop season?

During current cotton season 2016-17, the acreage under cotton cultivation is expected to decrease by around 12 per cent to 105 lakh hectares as against 118.77 lakh hectares during previous year due to delayed rains, fear of pest attacks like white fly in northern zone and pink boll worm in the Gujarat region, switching over to other crops like guar, soybean, pulses, groundnut etc. However, due to above normal rains and favourable agro-climatic conditions, it is expected that yield will be better in comparison to previous year and production may increase by about 4 per cent to 351 lakh bales in comparison to 338 lakh bales of cotton season 2015-16. Whereas total cotton consumption in the country is expected to increase to 313 lakh bales as against 312 lakh bales during previous year. As consumption is increasing, India's dependability on cotton export will reduce substantially. After including import and opening stock, the exportable surplus availability of cotton in the country is getting concentrated and it is expected that during cotton season 2016-17 cotton export may reduce to 48 to 50 lakh bales as against 69 lakh bales during cotton season 2015-16. As a result of demand and supply balance, domestic prices of cotton may not touch the MSP level and expected to remain stable throughout the year.

Which countries import cotton from India? How much cotton does each of them import?

Up to cotton season 2013-14, China was the biggest importer of Indian cotton and imported about 55 to 60 per cent of total cotton export from India. Thereafter, due to changes in import policy of China for lesser import up to bare minimum requirement as per WTO agreement and huge unsold stock, export to China started reducing and reduced to 9 per cent of total export by India during 2015-16. During this period, i.e. after cotton season 2013-14, demand of Indian cotton by other neighbouring countries i.e. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand etc also increased due to increase in their consumption and establishment of numerous newly constructed spinning and weaving mills.

How much cotton is likely to be produced in India during the crop year 2016-17? Will it be adequate for the textile industry of India?

During the current cotton season, cotton production in the country is estimated at 351 lakh bales as against estimated total consumption including mills, SSI and non-textile consumption of 313 lakh bales. After adding import and excluding export, the closing stock in the country is expected to be 48 lakh bales, which is equivalent to about two months consumption of domestic textile industry. Thus, the likely cotton production in 2016-17 will be adequate to meet the demand of the textile industry in the country. However, there should be continuous watch on cotton exports during the entire cotton season and the government should intervene whenever the export exceeds more than expected.

Can you share with us the facts and figures of cotton production and consumption in India for the last two years?

Facts and figure of cotton production and consumption in India during the last two years on the basis of data finalised by the Cotton Advisory Board are as under: 

During cotton season 2014-15, receipt of good prices in the previous year and favourable agro-climatic conditions at the time of sowing motivated the cotton farmers to increase the acreage under cotton by switching over from other competing crops. As a result, the overall acreage under cotton has been around 128.46 lakh hectares, which was the highest ever cotton acreage. While due to crop damage in northern and central region owing to untimely rains, cotton production in the country reduced to 386 lakh bales as against 398 lakh bales in 2013-14. Whereas total cotton consumption in the country increased to 309.44 lakh bales as against 299.55 lakh bales during previous season and the closing stock was 66 lakh bales.

During cotton season 2015-16, the acreage under cotton was 118.77 lakh hectares i.e. lower by 8 per cent in comparison to 128.46 lakh hectares in 2014-15. The reduction in acreage was due to damage by white fly pest attack in northern region, pink boll worm attack in Gujarat, delayed rains in central and southern region, deficit of rains all across the cotton growing areas and switching over to other competing crops. Based on the above agro-climatic conditions; production decreased by 12.5 per cent to 338 lakh bales as against 386 lakh bales during 2014-15. Whereas total cotton consumption in the country increased to 312 lakh bales and the closing stock was 43 lakh bales.
Published on: 24/01/2017

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of