Agri Business

There’s cotton aplenty, so why are mills importing fibre?

L N REVATHY Coimbatore | Updated on January 15, 2018


When there is surplus cotton in the country, why are mills importing the fibre? Spinners: are quick to provide the answer: High trash content, rampant adulteration and abnormal moisture content.

A cross-section of spinners BusinessLine spoke to said that mills in Tamil Nadu have stopped procuring cotton from Gujarat, in particular, and reduced the quantity purchased from Maharashtra due to quality issues.

Said Indian Cotton Federation President J Thulasidharan: “They mix quality cotton such as Sankar 6 with Comber Noil and card waste. In Maharashtra, when demand surges, ginners sell cotton without removing trash.

While 2 per cent trash is permissible, in recent months it has soared to 7 per cent. Many traders also liberally douse kapas with water, adding to the moisture content.”

The industry fears this could adversely affect the India Cotton branding initiative. “It could be a threat to the entire textile value chain,” said Thulasidharan, who is also the Managing Director of Rajratna Mills (P) Ltd.

The ICF has estimated cotton production for the 2016-17 season at 320-330 lakh bales and consumption at 295 lakh bales.

Surge in imports

According to Thulasidharan, contracted import volumes could easily touch a record 30 lakh bales. “Mills in Tamil Nadu invariably take the lead in importing the fibre, but this year, spinners in the North have also taken to imports as the realisation is 3-4 per cent better than the domestic fibre.”

Thulasidharan urged urgent government intervention. “The Cotton Control Order should be brought back and ISI standards enforced.

Such measures will not just conserve forex reserves, but also help every stakeholder in the textile value chain.”

He rued that despite being the largest producer of cotton and the biggest exporter of yarn, India continues to depend on the US, West Africa and Australia for supply of quality fibre.

“Cotton farming is sustainable with minimum support from the government. The present state of affairs though would push farmers away from cotton cultivation,” he said.

Published on March 23, 2017

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