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India in dire need to raise cotton yields to protect export surplus, state-run trader says

The country’s cotton output was estimated at 35.45 million bales of 170 kilograms each in 2020-21, compared with domestic demand of about 33 million bales.

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New Delhi: India should urgently focus on boosting cotton yields as rising consumption in the world’s biggest grower may soon wipe out its export surplus, according to state-run Cotton Corp. of India.

“There is a dire need to think ways and means for enhancing our cotton productivity,” Pradeep Kumar Agarwal, chairman of the company, said at a webinar organized by the Cotton Association of India. The nation can increase its foreign exchange earnings by stepping up cotton and textile exports, he said.

Any rise in local cotton production could potentially be bearish for global prices, which climbed Thursday near a fresh decade high on tight supplies. India exports cotton mainly to its neighboring countries, but also imports high-quality fiber to produce premium textiles.

“The way cotton consumption is increasing in India and almost matching with production, shortly we may not have any surplus cotton for exports,” he said. Domestic cotton yields are lower than those in countries like Australia, Brazil, China and the U.S., Agarwal said. India needs to boost its irrigation infrastructure, while growers should be given high-yielding seeds to help them harvest more crop from the same area, he said.

The country’s cotton output was estimated at 35.45 million bales of 170 kilograms each in 2020-21, compared with domestic demand of about 33 million bales, according to the cotton group. India exported 7.7 million bales last year, mainly to its neighboring countries, as its stockpiles swelled during the pandemic.

The government could also help farmers by encouraging contract farming, facilitating farm loans at cheaper rates, introducing measures to control contamination during its transport from farms to factories and ensuring assured buyback of the crop at the growers’ doorsteps, Agarwal said. –Bloomberg


Also read: How much cotton does India have? That’s the latest dispute between Indian trade body & USDA


 

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