STAR RATING- A FIGURE OF MERIT FOR GINNERIES

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S.Ulaganathan, Director (EPQA) and Dr. K.R.K.Iyer, Consultant
Textiles Committee, Mumbai

COTTON SCENARIO IN INDIA

Amongst all the cotton growing countries of the world, India ranks number one in area under cotton cultivation spreading out to over 10 million hectares. Although only second in cotton production, India has several distinctions to its credit. India is the only country in the world that grows on a commercial scale all four cultivated species of cotton viz. Gossypium Arboreum, Gossypium Herbacium, Gossypium Hirsutum and Gossypium Barbedense.
Today, there are hundreds of improved varieties and hybrids belonging to the above four species being grown in different parts of the country. India is also the first to cultivate hybrid cotton on a commercial scale and can take pride in being the only country that grows the complete range of staples from short and coarse un-spinnable Assam Comillas to the extra long superfine cotton ‘Suvin’, which in fibre quality matches, with Giza 45 of Egypt and spins 120s count. The ginning outturn of the Indian cotton also presents a wide spectrum of variation from 24% to 42%.
In crop duration, there are varieties in India that complete their life cycle in about 145 days while some others take as long as 270 days. The period of growth of cotton is also widely variable from region to region and is planted and processed in one part of the country or another throughout the year.
The cotton production in the country rose from 23 lakh bales during 1947-48 to 295 lakh bales during 2009-10. The cotton production in 2010-11 is estimated to be 325 lakh bales. From being an importer of cotton during pre-independence years, India has not only become self-sufficient but has turned into an exporter of cotton. India is the second largest producer of cotton yarn contributing nearly 20% to global cotton yarn trade. The total employment generation in textile sectors, taking into account cotton-related and allied activities, is estimated to be about 100 million. The cotton, known as white gold, is today the most important cash crop driving the economic growth of the country.

PROBLEMS IN COTTON CULTIVATION

Though India today is the second largest producer of cotton in the world, in productivity it is placed below most of the major cotton growing countries. Excessive reliance on rain, inadequate availability of quality seeds, high incidence of bollworm and sucking pests, ineffective transfer of technology to farms, fragmented land holding and illiteracy of farmers have been the main the factors contributing to low productivity.
Though the evolution of new and high yielding varieties and hybrids through breeding research has helped in improving productivity, it has led to mixing of varieties at the farm, market yards and ginneries impairing the consistency of cotton quality.

GINNING SCENARIO IN INDIA

The purpose of ginning is to separate cotton fibres from the seeds. The ginning process is the most important mechanical treatment that cotton undergoes before it is converted into yarns and fabrics. Any damage caused to the quality of fibres during ginning cannot be rectified later in the spinning or subsequent processes. At the same time, any quality improvement effected at raw material stage goes a long way in the process improvement of the entire supply chain as well as in the overall quality improvement of the final product.
Till recently, the ginning industry in India presented a dismal picture. In the years before 2000, Indian ginneries were in a primitive condition and were running with poor standard of efficiency. Although there were over 3500 factories in the country dispersed over the nine major cotton-growing states, about 2600 of them performed only ginning operation. More than 2000 ginning factories had their installed capacity as low as 6-12 double roller gins. The ginning machines and bale presses were very old and had been imported from England. Most of these machines were manufactured between 1895 and 1920.

PROBLEMS IN COTTON GINNING

Over the years, comparisons have often been made between ginning practices in India and abroad and the differences observed in the quality of ginned lint, particularly in terms of trash content and presence of contaminants. In countries like USA, Australia, Uzbekistan etc, the seed cotton which is machine picked and which arrives at the ginning factories with trash content in excess of even 25% leaves the ginning factories in the form of pressed bales with less than 2% trash. Even in African countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Egypt, Mali, Benin, Ivory Coast and Chad where the cotton is hand-picked like in India, trash content in bales is comparable with that of US cotton because of good house keeping and the use of pre- and post-cleaning machines in their ginning system. In India, on the other hand, the hand-picked seed cotton, which arrives in ginning factories with substantially less trash than the machine-picked American or Australian cotton, leaves the factory with higher trash than in these countries. Excessive quantities of foreign matter due to improper picking and ginning practices had earned notoriety for the Indian cotton as the most unclean cotton in the world till recently.
It was well known that foreign matter content in Indian cotton increased during the 90s of the last century. Impurities such as alien fibres, coloured threads, cloth pieces, human hair, plastic films, paper bits, metallic objects, oil, grease etc. referred to as contaminants had found entry into cotton at the farm yard, market yard, ginnery as well as during transportation at different stages due to lack of infrastructure and improper work practices. In the list of “most contaminated” cottons compiled by ITMF on the basis of extensive survey, many of the “best” Indian varieties occupied prime place. Ginning factories’ contribution to contamination had been identified as quite significant.
Modernization through technology upgrade and infrastructure improvement along with good work practices was the answer to the problems in cotton cultivation and ginning.

GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES – TMC and TUFS

CIRCOT had conducted the first ever survey on the status of the ginning industry in India and had published its report as early as in 1958. In later years, CIRCOT carried out surveys of ginning industry in some states in collaboration with ATIRA and SITRA. Textiles Committee conducted a country-wide Techno-Economic study of ginning and pressing factories covering two cotton seasons during 1992-93 and 1993-94. The study covered 3311 factories encompassing crop quality, condition of ginning and pressing factories, methods of handling kapas and lint, impurities in the fibre, etc.  All such surveys had revealed the deplorable state of the Indian ginning industry and had underscored the urgent need for its modernization.

Based on the results of the above surveys and recognizing the importance of cotton crop in the national economy as well as the need for improving production, productivity and quality of cotton, Government of India launched the Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC) in February 2000. The focus of TMC was on cotton research, transfer of technology to farms and modernization of market yards and ginneries.

The TMC had four component Mini Missions as follows:

Under TMC, modernized or newly set up factories conforming to TMC norms were given financial support in the form of one-time subsidy as follows:

1. 25% of the expenditure for general items of machinery and civil infrastructure subject to a maximum of Rs.20 lakhs in case of a large factory and Rs.15 lakhs in case of a small factory.
2. 25% of the expenditure for installing new automatic bale press subject to a maximum of Rs.7 lakhs.
3. 25% of the expenditure for purchasing HVI / MVI machine for fibre quality testing subject to a maximum of Rs.4 lakhs.

The target for modernization of ginneries under TMC was 1000 and by the time the scheme came to a close in December, 2010 about 850 G and P units were modernized or newly set up.
Almost simultaneous with TMC, the Ministry of Textiles launched another initiative called Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme under which interest subsidy of 5% is admissible to textile manufacturing units including Ginning and Pressing factories for modernization as well as for the setting up of new units. This scheme is continuing even today and a few hundred ginneries have so far availed of interest subsidy benefit.

MODERNIZATION OF GINNING and PRESSING FACTORIES UNDER TMC

Modern ginning machines, cleaning equipments for kapas and lint, automatic conveyor systems for kapas, lint and seed, auto-tramping bale press, sound infrastructure and appropriate management practices are the focus of modernization of ginning and pressing industries. The various components of modernization under TMC scheme are broadly grouped under major four heads such as:

i) Essential machines
a) Ginning machine
b) Pre-cleaner
c) Lint cleaner
d) Kapas conveyor
e) Seed conveyor
f) Weigh bridge g) Lint conveyor system
h) Bale press
i) Humidifiers/ Moisturizers
j) Fire fighting system
k) Underground wiring

ii) Essential infrastructure
a) Kapas platform
b) Lint halls (pala halls)
c) Seed storage space d) Bale storage space
e) CC road
f) Boundary wall/ fencing

iii) Essential conditions
a) Quality awareness boards
b) Headgear/ uniform
c) Training of gin fitters
d) Disposal of rubbish
e) Gummed boards f) Variety-wise/ grade-wise heaping
g) Covering of cotton as it arrives
h) Bale packaging
i) Gin / press fitters, 2 in each shift

iv) Desirable machines
a) HVI/ MVI
b) Generator
c) Laboratory model gin
d) GP balance e) Moisture meter
f) Workshop machines
g) Roller grooving machine
h) Cotton pod opener

PRESENT STATUS OF MODERNIZATION

The ginning industry has been on a modernization spree ever since the Government of India launched Technology Mission on Cotton. As many as 859 ginning and pressing factories have completed modernization under Technology Mission on Cotton. It is also reported that about 200 ginning and pressing factories have been modernized under Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS). With these developments, ginning infrastructure in the country could be said to have secured a firm foundation. The cotton textile industry in India can look forward to meeting its major raw material requirements exclusively through indigenous supply of clean cotton.

RATING OF GINNING and PRESSING FACTORIES

As the effects of modernization started becoming visible in cotton quality in the early years of TMC, the user mills were eager to know more about the technical merits of modernized G and P factories and wanted to identify the superior ones among the modernized units. The elite among the modernized ginning factories expected some kind of recognition for the quality of equipment, civil infrastructure and management practices as well as process conditions adopted by them to deliver clean cotton bales. Some ginners were curious to know whether scope exists for further improvements in their units to meet the growing quality demands of the cotton market. Rating of the ginning and pressing factories was the only answer to the felt needs of the textile industry in general and of G and P factories in particular. Accordingly a methodology for star rating modernized ginneries was developed by TMC and this was bequeathed to the Textiles Committee for implementation in February 2009. Under the rating methodology, fine-tuned by Textiles Committee, star ratings are awarded to ginneries on the basis of quality of infrastructure set up in the factory, management practices and the quality of ginned cotton. The star rating scheme undertaken by Textiles Committee is of a unique kind in so far as rating ginneries is not practiced anywhere else in the world.

WHAT IS RATING?

Rating is the process of placing modernized G and P units into classes based on the quality of infrastructure, comprising (i) machinery, (ii) civil structural items and (iii) the management practices, and the contamination level of ginned cotton. Since the quality of cotton processed in a ginnery will greatly depend on the excellence of its infrastructure, the rating assigned to a unit will be a performance indicator that will be of concern and interest to both the cotton trade and textile mills alike.
OBJECTIVES OF RATING
Star rating of ginneries intends to achieve the following objectives:
• Accord recognition to the quality of infrastructure in ginneries
• Encourage modernization of more ginning units
• Promote quality culture among ginners through good management practices
• Improve the quality of baled cotton
• Create a brand for clean cotton
• Justify a higher price tag for quality cotton
• Indirectly promote better price realization by farmers

RATING METHODOLOGY

The star rating scheme specifies various conditions such as (i) minimum eligibility criteria, (ii) essential parameters, (iii) minimum marks for each rating (iv) additional fulfilling requirements for 4 star and 5 star ratings and (v) analysis of contamination level in ginned cotton. Ginning and pressing factories seeking star rating have to fulfill the minimum eligibility requirements.
As per the rules of rating scheme, an on-site assessment will be carried out by a team of experts. During on-site assessment, 21 infrastructural components comprising machinery and civil structures are assigned marks ranging from 1 to 5 depending on their technical merits. Weight representing the degree of importance in controlling trash and contamination has also been assigned to each of these 21 components. The mark assigned multiplied by the weight factor would give the weight mark for each component. Similar marking scheme is also prescribed for the 13 management parameters including contamination level in ginned cotton. A maximum of 200 marks are assigned for infrastructural parameters and a maximum of 175 marks are assigned for management parameters. Rating is awarded in five classes, viz. ‘TC-Single Star’ to ‘TC-Five Star,’ based on

i. Percentage of marks scored in infrastructural parameters
ii. Percentage of marks scored in management parameters
iii. Fulfillment of criteria for essential parameters
iv. Fulfillment of criteria for additional fulfilling requirements (for 4 Star and 5 Star only)

RATING CERTIFICATE

Ginning and Pressing factories, on successful completion of assessment, will be awarded a ‘Certificate of Rating’. Information on the rating assigned to Ginning and Pressing factories will also be placed on the Textiles Committee’s website for the information of textile mills and cotton trade. The factories that do not qualify for any rating as per the rating criteria will be given ‘Provisional Rated Status’ for one year. The provisional rated factories are expected to make necessary improvements and seek reassessment for rating within one year.

VALIDITY OF RATING

Rating once assigned to a Ginning and Pressing factory is valid for a period of three years. The assessment team will make compulsory annual visits within the validity period to ensure that the machinery, civil infrastructure and management practices continue to be in place. On completion of three years fresh assessment will be carried out for renewal of rating.

LOGO FOR RATING

Textiles Committee has developed a logo for rating through National Institute of design (NID), Ahmedabad. The logo will be registered as a trade mark under Trade Marks Act. The logo will be promoted as a brand for clean cotton.

STATUS OF RATING

The response from the ginning and pressing factories to the star-rating scheme is overwhelming. The user industries, spinning mills, have also welcomed the initiatives of the Govt. of India and are look forward to reaping the benefits of the rating scheme. So far, 510 applications have been received for assessment till 22.02.2011. The assessment status of Ginning and Pressing factories is as follows:

The process of assessment and rating for the remaining factories is under progress.

BENEFITS FROM RATING
The star rating scheme is set to bring benefit to different sections of stake holders in cotton production and utilization. Some of the benefits are discussed below.

(i) Benefit to Mills
The information on website about star ratings of Ginning and Pressing units will help mills in selecting the appropriate ginnery while sourcing their cotton. Where the mill’s requirement of cotton quality is stringent, a ginnery of high rating could be chosen. The mills which are inclined to undertake their own ginning can choose the factories of desired rating.
(ii) Benefit to the Ginneries
For the ginner who is also a cotton trader, the rating will serve as an effective marketing tool. Higher premium could be demanded for cotton processed in ginneries with superior star rating. A high star rating will indeed boost the credibility of the factory both in domestic and overseas markets. A ginner carrying out job work can demand higher rates depending on the rating secured by the factory. The rating will help the factories to know their present quality status and examine whether scope exist for further improvement in the infrastructure. The rating will also help Ginning and Pressing factories in securing working capital and other forms of loan from financial institutions.
(iii) Benefit to Cotton Traders
Cotton traders can select ginneries for processing their cotton on the basis of rating. Since the quality of baled cotton is bound to depend on the star rating of the factory, traders will find it easy to choose the ginnery for processing cotton to the level of quality demanded by each mill.
(iv) Benefit to Government of India
Modernization of ginneries and the resulting quality upgrade of Indian cotton have favoured unprecedented rise in cotton exports (more than ten-fold in a decade). Periodic assessment and rating may act as an incentive not only for maintaining the modernized ginning infrastructure but also for its further upgrade. A spirit of competition would be generated among the G and P factories whereby the Gov’s objective of sustained improvement in ginning infrastructure in the country may be fully realized.

LOOKING FORWARD
The rating scheme discussed above is the first of its kind ever used for classifying ginneries not only in India but the world over. The day is not far when buyers of cotton bales in India and abroad would start specifying the star rating of the ginnery in which they would like their cotton to be ginned. Being processed in a star rated ginnery will enhance the brand value of cotton bales and promote their sale in domestic and overseas markets. The quality upgrade made at the raw material stage adds new dimension to the overall improvement of the quality at various stages in the entire supply chain of the cotton industry. Textiles Committee could then take pride in having refurbished the image of the Indian Cotton.