Ripple Patel, Managing Director Fiotex Cotspin Pvt. Ltd.

Email: ripple@fiotex.in

India needs to take advantage by the vacuum created by China, Indian cotton consumption is likely to reach 360 lakhs bales during the current season as against the crop size of 350 lakhs bales. The country is likely to export around 45 lakh bales of cotton. Hence, India will become a net importer of cotton from 2021-22 cotton season onwards and become dependent from Atmanirbhar. The industry would require around 500 lakh bales of cotton domestically by 2025 and export around 75 Lakh bales to achieve the envisaged textile business size of US $ 350 billion and export target of US$ 150 billion.

Comparison of India versus rest of the world

Currently, Indian cotton yield is 448 kg per hectare, compared to China’s 1850 kg/H and Brazil’s at 1800 kg/H. The national average yields in Turkey, Israel and Mexico are more than 1500 kg lint per hectare, and even Pakistan is 700 kg/H.

Background of Indian Cotton Revolution

In India, the Technology Mission on Cotton 1.0 (TMC 1.0), announced in 1999 by the former Hon. Prime Minister Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was implemented in February 2000 along with other three Mini Missions with a special consideration to improve cotton production and productivity with internationally competitive fibre quality.

ParticularsIndia“Australia, Brazil, Turkey,

China, and Mexico”

Type of CottonHybridsPure-line varieties
Crop duration: days160-240140-160
Plant Population /

hectare

11,000>1,10,000
Number of pickings3-51
Sowing and pickingManualMechanized
Laborers employed per

hectare

100 to 1201-10
Harvest index

(seed-cotton v/s plant

bio-mass)

0.2 – 0.40.4 – 1.0
Flower Conversion % to Cotton Bolls29 – 33 %72 – 90%
Lint% in seed cotton (Ginning%) Ginning Outturn32-3438-44
Seed productionCumber- someEasy
Area Lakh hectare123224
Average lint yield kg/ha500> 1500

Successful implementation of this Mission TMC 1.0 improved the production, productivity, quality, marketing infrastructure and ginning capabilities. India witnessed a revolution which resulted in increase of cotton production from 178 lakhs bale to 398 lakh bales during 2013-14. The area under cotton had increased from 92 million hectares to 128 million hectares during the period of TMC 1.0, thus making India become the largest cotton producer in the world and net exporter of cot- ton. To develop long staple cotton fibre, India adopted GMO variety with BT technology during 2003 resulting in huge increase in production and productivity resulting in cotton turn a rich reward-returning commodity for the farming community.

After this bumper era, India has never been able to reach that mark of 398 Lakh bales. And day by day we as a country are losing our cutting edge compared to other cotton growing nations. The BT technology license expired almost decade ago, and no significant seeds have been developed for rich fibre and cotton yield. Future of Indian cotton is facing a reversal due to stagnant growth, and consequently, the production and productivity have now dropped below 350 lakh bales and 448 kg per hectare respectively.

Requirement to implement Technology Mission on Cotton 2.0

Currently, Indian yield is 448 kg per hectare, compared to Australia, world’s No. 1 which produces 2000 kg per hectare, China is No. 2 producing 1850 kg/H, Brazil at 1800 kg/H, and even the national average yields in Turkey, Israel and Mexico are more than 1500 kg lint per hectare. The United States national average is 950 kg/H.

To consolidate the cotton situation, it is well known that our country launched a Technology Mission on Cotton 1.0 (TMC) in the year 2000, post which there was a significant boost to the cotton yield and production from 278 kg/ha productivity and 140 lakh bales in 2000-01 to 521 kg/ha productivity and 280 Lakh bales in 2006-07. India accounts around 35% of the world cotton growing area (12 to 13.3 million hectares), but accounts only 23% of cotton production due to this poor technology.

India is the home of BT hybrid cotton, as Genetically Modified (GM) pest-resistant BT cotton hybrids are prominent since their introduction in 2003. Currently, it covers 95% of the cotton area, with the seeds produced entirely by the private sector. There are some breakthroughs in indigenous cotton technology, with which we can increase the productivity, but all put together we cannot meet even 25% of India’s cotton seed requirement for the next five to seven years.

The Government should understand that cotton crop is cultivated for cotton fibres and not for cotton seeds, Aim is to develop more GOT rather than net weight of Boll. Many varieties are promoted for more yield of cotton seeds and less for fibres, and these varieties should be taken away.

The following most important game changing initiatives are needed to be launched by our country involving the public, private sectors and private sector, seed companies, farm machinery companies, agro chemical companies, cotton ginners, cotton traders, exporters and the textile industry. This can be a “Technology Mission on Cotton – 2.0” and the best PPP initiative that can be conceived and implemented in our country.

Current challenges of hybrid variety and pure line variety

India is a big country and we have plenty of small and marginal farmers, and so we face many unique chal- lenges. We have always focused on hybrid variety of cotton. Long way back in 1970, India produced the Shankar Variety (Hybrid variety) which gave better yield but the cost of production of hybrids makes them expensive, and also requires more inputs, including fertilisers and water. Hybrid seed can be used once so farmer needs to purchase seeds every single time, but that is not in the case of pure varieties which reduces the farmer cost and requires less inputs without com- promising the yields So most of countries make pure variety for which seeds are produced by self-fertilisation and carry low cost of production and are economically viable for the farmer.

“Hybrid seeds are developed by cross fertilisation be- tween two species or distinct parent lines and can be developed from a series of crosses between parents. While a Pure line variety is a variety obtained from a single homozygous plant of a self-pollinated crop, in short Pure lines are plants that “breed true” or produce that closely resemble their parents”

In conclusion, to develop the Pure lines investments are high and Government has to fund the investment, but on longer run farmers are benefited, while Hybrid seeds is less capital incentive but incur more recurring cost which the ultimately farmer has to pay.

Current Cotton Scenario

 

“Sr.

No”

DescriptionWorldIndiaIndia

% with

World

1Area Million

Hectare

32.612.3537.88 %
2Average Raw Kapas Pro- duction per Hectare in Kg1923.81375.5-(28.50 %)
3Yield Kg per

Hectare

808448-(44.55 %)
4Production in Million Bales (170 Kg)143.733.523.84 %
5Consumption (1000 MT)24,6405,50222.33 %
6Exports (1000 MT) World wide9,9058808.89 %

 Other countries yield of cotton

United States995 Kg/ Hectare
Australia1920 Kg / Hectare
China1879 Kg / Hectare
Brazil1814 Kg / Hectare
Pakistan708 Kg / Hectare
India448 Kg / Hectare

Suggestion on how to increase yield of cotton per hectare

  1. Immediate Intervention in seeds variety
  2. Overall Integrated crop management shall be introduced
  1. Cotton agronomy
  2. Outsourcing technology
  3. Other supporting initiatives from Government
  1. Development of varieties/hybrids which are early maturing so as to complete the crop within 140-150 days, amenable for high density with high GOT (Ginning Out Turn) and better fibre Such varieties can also facilitate mechanisation of cotton picking.
  2. There are some currently available hybrids fit- ting into this description which are tested by the SAUs and ICAR which can be produced in large quantities to start this programme immediate- Seed technology upgradation is required and GOI shall give permission for this GMO Hybrid Seeds on urgency and emphasis more investment and research for Pure line variety for longer term with state specific characteristics.
  3. Using the multiple GM traits conferring herbi- cide resistance to minimise weed management costs, broadening for bollworm resistance by stacking new Bt traits etc, under the provisions of the PPVFR Act and the Environment Protec- tion Act. The new framework of understanding reached between the seed industry associations can help in spread of such new traits to the farmers
  4. Promote High Ginning Outturn varieties seeds which improve ginning out turn (GOT %) to 40– 42% from average Indian hybrids GOT of 33- 34%. This increase in GOT% alone will substantially contribute to increase the country’s lint productivity to take it to the global average.
  1. Identification of high oil percentage germplasm to improve the oil percentage in popular varieties / hybrids to enhance the contribution to the edible oil from Further development of low gossypal / NIL gossypal varieties can also help in this direction.
  2. (Gossypal is a toxic crystalline compound present in cotton-seed )

Encouraging the farmers to follow IPR practices combining with pyramiding new Bt traits into superior genetics to bring in lasting solutions in managing bollworms including Pink Bollworm. Appropriate RIB (Refugee in Bag) to be designed for sustaining the new Bt traits

  1. Production of Hybrids is expensive compared to Pure line variety. To develop the Pure lines varieties, investments are high and Government has to fund the investment, but on longer run farmers are benefited, while Hybrid seeds is less capital incentive but more recurring cost which ultimately farmer has to pay. If India is able to produce Pure in Line variety than High-density plantation with respect to world, we can also plant up to 1,00,000 plants per Hectare in future

The Indian seed industry is capable of meeting the above challenges. There can be a public private partnership initiative involving the SAUs, ICAR and the Indian seed companies for development of superior varieties with the above characteristics for enhancing cotton productivity and profitability of the cotton farmers

  1. Overall Integrated Crop Management should be
    1. Development of agronomic packages using growth regulators, defoliants so that the plant population go up to 35000-40000 in the Phase-1 and 55000-60000 plants per ha in Phase2 and ultimately enable moving towards machine har- Labor is not going to be available for har- vesting cotton in the future. Even cost of harvest is so high it takes away any profit from cotton farming away from farmers. Enhancing MSP is no longer possible as since 2019 our cotton cost is higher than prices in global markets unlike be- fore. As we are a surplus country, we will have huge reserves if MSP is enhanced any further. Only way is to reduce cost of cultivation to farm- er to make cotton cultivation a preferred choice to farmer.
    2. Proper usage of fertilizers needs to promote, be- cause currently in India only major fertiliders are used, we need to use micro, bio and specialty
    3. Government should ban unauthorised selling of pesticides, fertilisers and seeds, henceforth all agri Inputs shall be strictly covered under this control orders whether organic or chemical of hormonal based product including growth pro-
    4. Pheromone traps, lures and other types of mechanised agri inputs helps to prevent pest attacks, so stress shall be made to prevent the attack rather than to fight with attack.
    5. Machine farming and Scientific approach of ag- riculture needs to promote introducing cotton plucking machine, Cotton harvesting machine,
    6. Subsoiling to break hard pans, canopy manage- ment, plastic mulching, drip irrigation, sale weed seed bed management, along with the weather advisory need to be issued by state agency from time to time.
    7. To identify and diversify the Indian germplasm lines with new sources of ClCv disease tolerance to combat the threats of new more virulent re- combinant strains of ClCv virus. Also developing with new sources of resistance to sucking pests like Jassids, White flies, thrips, mealy bugs, mirid bugs and aphids

3. Cotton Agronomy

  1. USA has the best cotton quality standards in the world, we need to conducts bale to bale testing Conversion of flower to fully matured cotton bolls
  2. In India only 29-32% of flowers get converted into fully matured cotton bolls while in Israel 94%; Australia and Brazil 90%; above 72% in most of the cotton growing countries
  3. BT seeds require accurate farming techniques– the plant should be cultivated with minimum stress.
  4. Cotton growing regions in India have different soil, climatic conditions, rainfall pattern, etc., — the cotton farming has to be done to suit these conditions
  5. Continuous agronomy research has to be carried out in various cotton growing regions/zones in the State – give correct advice to the farmers.
  6. Development for Indigenous Pure Line varieties with state specific characteristics.

        4.Outsourcing Technology

  1. Our Indian young scientists and Researchers may be sent to USA, Australia, Brazil, Israel to ob- serve best farming techniques and research how to bridge the gap between them and us, and bringing extraordinary results
  2. Seed technology upgradation to BT 3 or 4 (Her- bicide resistant). All countries producing 1000 kg per hectare are using these GMO Seeds. GOI shall give permission for this GMO Seeds both Hybrid or Pure line. Without this GMO seeds In- dia cannot achieve 1000 kg/Ha yield of cotton.
  3. The services of retired scientist from USDA, premier agriculture research institutes, university and other foreign cotton research institutes may be availed.
  4. Foreign industry-Institute collaboration may be encouraged by local Industrialist and academician
  5. Encourage FDI and Joint ventures in bringing lat- est seed technology to the State
  6. Study Australian 7 steps cotton farming tech- nique (low to high risk: low to high yield), start research and develop new seed  varieties.

     5. Other Supporting Initiatives from

    1. Make necessary relevant changes in Seeds Con- trol Order 1983, Cotton Seeds Price (Control) Order, 2015, Essential Commodities Act, 1955, Seeds Act, 1966
    2. GOI shall raise limit per Acre for Kisan credit card Increment can be sufficed by E-rupi voucher which can be used only for farm inputs like seeds, pesticides, fertilisers etc.
    3. Government shall emphasis GEO aerial mapping from various agency, which will ensure how much crop is sown. In advanced countries it helps to take look acreage of crop by which prediction of the yield becomes
    4. The productivity improvement of cotton shall be taken up with the detailed guidelines form- ing National Cotton Committee to achieve the mission to improve cotton productivity. Layout can be prepared by a joint meeting of various ministries like Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, State Agriculture Department of Cotton Growing states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana) along with Ministry of Textiles, Ministry of Finance,Textile Commissioner Office, Mumbai, along with Agriculture Institute, Cot- ton research centers, seed industry and textile industry as their stake-holders.
    5. GOI or State can hold trials with the help of state agriculture offices, and at least plant 1000 Hectare and then conclusion can be drawn. Preferred States for these trials would be Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana in first phase and Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan in second phase because these States contribute major share in productivity.
    6. State Agriculture and National Agriculture uni- versity shall be upgraded and Cotton Research Centre shall be aligned with Ministry of Textiles instead of Minister of Agriculture. Also, Cotton Excellence Centre governed by Ministry of Tex- tiles shall be established in Gujarat and Maharashtra which contribute 60% of nation’s

Hence, we need immediate measure to save India from becoming Net Importer of Cotton.

Against this background, there is an urgent need to bring back TMC in a revised format (TMC 2.0) with the following three Mini Missions giving major thrust:

Mini Mission 1 : Cotton Technology Development

Mini Mission 2 : Cotton Technology Transfer.

Mini Mission 3 : Cotton Lint Preparation (At par with international quality parameters).

All stakeholders including Central and State Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare and Department of Agriculture shall have to work together and build more synergies to achieve this mission and let’s hope this ignites another revolution and Farmer’s Income will not only double but India will be for sure achieve the dream of 5 trillion economy.

(Inputs from personal experience, Texprocil, SIMA, GOI-TexMin, USDA)