India has concentrated on ‘branded cotton’ as they are getting fewer premiums than other cotton exporting countries for not having cotton branding.
Cotton in India is one of the most important commercial fibers and commodity exported due to their uses in textile industry, mattress etc.
Figure 1: Workers are harvesting cotton in New Delhi.
India is one of the largest producers as well as exporters of cotton and cotton yarn. Cotton plays an important role in the country’s economy, as its textile industry is predominantly cotton based.
Moving towards branded cotton
Recently Union Textile Minister of India Smriti Irani said, “We need to emphasize to create ‘branded cotton’ for export purpose and ask the domestic industry to come up with a proposal.”
Several countries such as the US and Egypt have been able to create their own brand of cotton under the names ‘Supima’ and ‘Egyptian Cotton’, respectively. According to Sanjay K Jain, Chairman of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry and board member of the Cotton Association of India, the matter is currently under deliberation. “The ‘Suvin cotton’ produced in Tamil Nadu and ‘Shankar 6’ produced in Gujarat is good quality cotton and can be projected as global brands. The matter is in the deliberation stage,” he added.
“The quality of Indian cotton is not standardized at present due to several bad practices adopted by the various stakeholders including farmers, ginners, and traders,” said J Thulasidharan, President of Indian Cotton Federation.
Cotton production and export trend in India
India has a big cotton industry for over 3000 years that is why it is recognized as the birthplace of cotton industry. India is famous for finest and beautiful cotton fabrics. Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, and Rajasthan are the important cotton cultivating regions.
Table 1: Top 10 cotton-producing countries in 2017/18 May. (Source: USDA)
According to the Table 1, India has gained the first position in producing cotton all over the world. India is expecting to produce quality cotton 28.5 million in bales in 2018/19. According to the below figure, cotton production in India is increasing significantly after a great reduction in 2015/16.
Major markets for Indian cotton exports are Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand etc. As per International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) report for the month of March 2017, India exported 28.2 percent share of cotton to the world.
Figure 2: Indian cotton production from 2013/14 May to 2017/18 May in millions of bales. (Source: USDA)
By value, the above listed 15 nations shipped 84.4% of all cotton exports in 2017. Global sales from cotton exports by
country in 2017 totaled US$53.7 billion.
The Indian government is assisting the sector to go ahead. Now the Egyptian and US cotton fetch premiums over the conventional fiber from the same country in import markets, including India. Despite the Indian cotton having better quality and a huge potential for fetching a higher price, the lack of a branding initiative has yielded lower income for Indian farmers and traders.
Table 2: Top 15 nation’s cotton export share to the world market. (Source: International Trade Center)
Therefore, the government is asking a proposal to accommodate branding of cotton and also contract farming of the natural fiber. Several rounds of meetings have been held with the Ministry of Textiles and the guidelines for the ‘Indian cotton’ brand are currently underway. The Textiles Commissioner is responsible for the entire process.
“We will see ‘Indian cotton’ soon on the lines of Egyptian and US cotton,” said Ujwal Lahoti, Chairman of the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil).