India’s 2023-24 cotton production has dipped to 15-year low due to poor yields caused by old technology of BT cotton seeds, erratic weather and pest and disease incidence, said Atul Ganatra, president of trade body Cotton Association of India, while addressing its Annual General Meeting (AGM) today.
“As per the latest report of the CAl Crop Committee, this season Indian cotton crop size is estimated at 294.10 lakh bales of 170kgs each. This is 8% lower production compared to last year and the lowest cotton production in last 15 years. Due to lower production and higher cotton consumption, our balance sheet is very tight,” said Ganatra.
The media release issued by CAI said that the biggest challenge before the cotton trade is how to increase cotton production. “We are having 33% of the world’s total cotton acreage i.e. around 125 lakh hectares in the world’s total cotton acreage of 329.52 lakh hectares. This year, our yields are expected to be about 396 kgs of lint per hectare i.e 2.33 bales of170 kgs. each per hectare which is very low compared to the world’s average yield of 675 kg lint per hectare,” said Ganatra.
“In 2013-14, our cotton yield went up to 572 kg. per hectare. However, from there, our cotton yield has now reduced by almost 30%. The main reason of this reduction in our cotton yield is that our BT seed technology is very old. We now need new seeds. Climate change and El Nino are also hurting our cotton crop in a big way as our 73% area is non irrigated. Also attack of pink ball worms is reducing our yields,” said Ganata.
If the textile industry runs with full 100% capacity, the industry will require about 414 lakh bales as per the state-wise cotton consumption survey conducted by CAI.
“Against this, our production is only 294 lakh bales. This is hurting the mills and they are not able to run with 100% capacity throughout the year. Further, due to 11% duty on cotton imports in India, mills are unable to import cotton to run its operations with full capacity,” said Ganatra.
According to the trade body, thanks to the favourable policy of giving subsidies for expansion of mills by various state governments, many mills are increasing their spindleage – to increase their spinning capacity.
“There is an increase of 15-20 lakh spindles in India every year. If this trend continues, then within a year, our cotton consumption capacity will go up to 450 lakh bales per year and if we fail to inccreae the cotton consumption and fail to remove import duty, it will bring disaster,” he said.