Pure cot­ton cot­ton blends

Down to Earth - - TEXTILE -

the au­ton­o­mous Cot­ton Tex­tile and Ex­port Pro­mo­tion Coun­cil,re­as­sures that mea­sures have been thought of to deal with this volatil­ity.“We are look­ing at other emerg­ing mar­kets like Viet­nam, Bangladesh and Myan­mar to make up for the deficit. While cot­ton might have taken a hit, ex­port of value-added prod­ucts like yarn and fab­rics will see a rise,” he says.

How­ever,it is un­likely that new mar­kets will be able to make up for the deficit cre­ated by China’s lack of de­mand. P T Pill­e­var, chief gen­eral manager of the Cot­ton Cor­po­ra­tion of In­dia (cci), re­spon­si­ble for price sup­port op­er­a­tions of cot­ton un­der the Min­istry of Tex­tiles, says, “We al­ready pro­cured 0.3 mil­lion tonnes of cot­ton from farm­ers be­tween Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber 2014 at a min­i­mum sup­port price (msp) of 4,050 for the long, sta­ple

` va­ri­ety.” This is just the be­gin­ning. usda es­ti­mates sug­gest that this year cci might pro­cure close to 0.8 mil­lion tonnes of cot­ton to sup­port farm­ers in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Ma­ha­rash­tra, where mar­ket prices are be­low msp.The fact that cci has stepped in to pur­chase cot­ton from farm­ers shows that cot­ton pro­duc­ers are al­ready go­ing into losses in the open mar­ket.

Kavitha Ku­ru­ganti, con­venor of As­so­ci­a­tion for Sus­tain­able and Holis­tic Agri­cul­ture, says, “My con­ver­sa­tions with farm­ers in­di­cate that msp for cot­ton will be

500-1,000 less than last year. It was ` pre­dictable that this sit­u­a­tion would arise be­cause China had been stock­pil­ing.But we made no pro­vi­sions to safe­guard our farm­ers. The ul­ti­mate bur­den of this mar­ket fluc­tu­a­tion will be borne by the small farm­ers.” Un­der such cir­cum­stances, the push to in­crease cot­ton pro­duc­tion in the coun­try makes lit­tle sense. Ku­ru­ganti adds that the gov­ern­ment must stop mak­ing de­ci­sions solely in favour of in­dus­try with­out pro­tect­ing the pro­duc­ers. DE­SPITE THE tur­moil in the in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic mar­kets, the word on the street is that cot­ton is still do­ing very well. Three store own­ers in Pune, who deal in pure cot­ton, blended fab­rics and syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als, claim that close to 50 per cent of their sales still come from cot­ton. Bharat Ban­thia, owner of Deepak Ready­made Stores in the city, says, "There are cus­tomers for both cot­ton and syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als, but peo­ple of­ten pre­fer cot­ton be­cause it is a com­fort­able fab­ric, looks good and has a rich feel to it. How­ever, cot­ton blended with small amounts of syn­thetic fi­bre is al­most 40 per cent cheaper than pure cot­ton and lasts about three years, so it is in

Shashi Chabria, owner of Sharmilee Store in Pune, re­it­er­ates that the sale of cot­ton items has not gone down be­cause of blended fab­rics. Cot­ton will al­ways re­main a sta­ple in our wardrobe, even when fash­ion and fab­rics change, he adds.

While most peo­ple pre­fer to wear pure cot­ton, it may not be the best op­tion for In­dian weather. In In­dia, the best mix is a cot­ton-polyester blend in the ra­tio of 70:30. This mix has the best of both ma­te­ri­als—cot­ton's com­fort and polyester's dura­bil­ity, says Seema Pa­tel, tech­ni­cal manager in the tex­tile testing lab­o­ra­tory at the Ahmed­abad Tex­tile In­dus­try's Re­search As­so­ci­a­tion.

While farm­ers are bear­ing the brunt of fall­ing prices, the fate of tex­tile mills and af­fil­i­ated in­dus­tries does not look promis­ing ei­ther. “We had been ex­port­ing a large por­tion of our cot­ton pro­duce to China, but since it is not buy­ing, there will be a sur­plus and prices are bound to fall,” says R K Dalmiya, pres­i­dent of Cen­tury Tex­tiles, a cot­ton mill in Gu­jarat. Tex­tile own­ers do not pre­fer buy­ing cot­ton from cci as they can­not be sure of qual­ity at cci auc­tions.“Con­tam­i­na­tion with coloured threads or ma­te­ri­als like polypropy­lene is al­ready a ma­jor con­cern,” Dalmiya adds.

An­other prob­lem is the plum­met­ing cost of ar­ti­fi­cial fi­bres like polyester due to the fall in global petroleum prices. “Cot­ton is not the only thing we should look at. We are try­ing to pro­mote and mar­ket more blended fab­rics and polyester-cot­ton mix ex­ports. This will ease the pres­sure on the tex­tile in­dus­try,”Ra­jagopal says (see ‘Pure cot­ton v cot­ton blends’).

Amer­ica's covert agenda

The US, how­ever, is ma­nip­u­lat­ing In­dia to opt for pure cot­ton, not blends. An ad cam­paign by the Cot­ton Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional urges con­sumers to “check the la­bel” on ap­parel to en­sure they buy 100 per cent cot­ton.The ad tells In­di­ans to go back to the ba­sics, be­cause “we have been spin­ning, weav­ing and dy­ing it since an­cient times”.

What is hid­den is that the Coun­cil is the ex­port pro­mo­tion arm of the Na­tional Cot­ton Coun­cil of Amer­ica “ded­i­cated to in­creas­ing US ex­ports of cot­ton, cot­ton­seed and their prod­ucts”. An ex­pert on tex­tiles, who does not wish to be named, re­veals this is part of the US’ strat­egy to en­sure that cot­ton pro­duced in In­dia is con­sumed here it­self, leav­ing other mar­kets to the US. Cot­ton Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional did not re­spond to re­peated queries from Down To Earth about its cam­paign.

The In­dian gov­ern­ment has been ag­gres­sively push­ing cot­ton pro­duc­tion in the past two decades. Given the cur­rent va­garies of the mar­ket, it is time to re-think this strat­egy, fo­cus­ing in­stead on pro­tect­ing farm­ers and re­duc­ing the acreage un­der cot­ton to more sus­tain­able and re­mu­ner­a­tive farm­ing. In­dia must en­sure that it is not given the short end of the stick in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

The US is covertly try­ing to per­suade In­dia to opt for pure cot­ton in­stead of cot­ton blends, which are cheaper, more durable and have a good in­ter­na­tional de­mand. By do­ing this, the US wants to re­tain a larger share of the global cot­ton mar­ket

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