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India’s Cotton Fact Sheet @2017

India is the only country to grow all four species of cultivated cotton Gossypium arboreum and herbaceum (Asian cotton), G.barbadense (Egyptian cotton) and G.hirsutum (American Upland cotton)

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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India has the largest area devoted to cotton cultivation. Around 9.4 million hectares of land with an estimated four million farms had been involved in cotton farming since the past decade. Approximately 65 per cent of India’s cotton is produced on rain-fed areas. India is the only country to grow all four species of cultivated cotton Gossypium arboreum and herbaceum (Asian cotton), G.barbadense (Egyptian cotton) and G.hirsutum (American Upland cotton). Gossypium hirsutum represents 90 per cent of the hybrid cotton production in India.

India produces a large number of cotton varieties and hybrids. Though the number of varieties in cultivation exceeds seventy-five per cent, 98 per cent of the production is contributed by about 25 varieties.

Industry Structure

The Indian government actively participates in the industry and serves as an umbrella for the government agencies like Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) and state marketing federations. Furthermore, the state governments and regions in which the majority of the cotton planting takes place are also highly involved. In addition, there are committees and institutions responsible for the improvement of quality such as Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) and the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR).

The Larger Issues

Issues that generally plague the cotton industry are those related to the level of technology and modernization in the industry. These issues generally lead to larger problems that make the successful commercialization of cotton as a cash crop difficult. Consequently for the majority, cotton agriculture is stuck at the subsistence level. However, this is being addressed by the Technology Mission on Cotton (launched in February 2000) which continuously aims at improving the quality and productivity of cotton. The Mission consists of four Mini Missions focusing on research and development on cotton, dissemination of technology to the farmers, improvement of marketing infrastructure and modernization of ginning and pressing sector.

Regional status

Northern India

Cotton planting in Northern India has increased significantly from the last year. Farmers have shifted acreage to cotton due to higher price realization. Farmers have reported isolated incidences of whitefly and Government agencies are recommending farmers to uproot and destroy leaf curl infected cotton plants and use specific insecticides wherever whitefly populations cross specified threshold levels (ETL). The cotton crop is 75-80 days old and at the boll formation stage in Punjab. The yield forecast for the Punjab area is 574 kg per hectare, which is higher than the five-year average. In the states of Haryana and Rajasthan, the cotton acreage forecast is higher and the yields are expected to be higher than the five year average. 

Central India

The forecast for Gujarat area, the largest cotton growing state, is good with yields marginally higher than the last year and well above the five-year average. The forecast yield in Gujarat is 667 kg per hectare. According to the Gujarat State Agriculture Department, cotton planted area as of August 28 was higher by 10 percent compared to the last year. According to the India Meteorological Department, heavy rainfall is expected over parts of Gujarat and Central Maharashtra in early September, which may influence crop development. Farmers report that harvest will be delayed by a few weeks because of the replanting.

In Maharashtra, cotton acreage is forecasted slightly higher than last year while soybean and pulse crop planted area is anticipated to be lower. While the acreage for cotton has increased by almost 300,000 hectares across the state compared to the previous year, yields are forecast lower than last year due to poor rains. The eastern region (Vidarbha) of Maharashtra has received inadequate monsoon rains in the majority of its cotton growing districts. Farmers are weeding and taking moisture conservation and plant protection measures to protect against sucking pest infestations. There is low to moderate intensity of sucking pests reported in area cotton.  

Southern India

Cotton acreage is expected to rise in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, but acreage in Karnataka is likely to be lower than last year. Cotton sowing in Telangana is near completion. The crop is 20-25 days old and at the square formation stage. Some farmers are sowing cotton, still, if moisture is adequate. While acreage has increased by more than 30 per cent from last year, yield forecasts remain low due to inadequate rainfall and pest pressure in major cotton growing districts. State-level agency reports indicate the presence of aphids and pink bollworm in the Warangal district. Warangal district acreage is 17 per cent of the total state cotton area. Similarly, another major cotton district, Adilabad, has received 22 percent deficit monsoon rains, which may influence boll development.  In Andhra Pradesh, acreage under cotton and paddy has increased. In Karnataka, the cotton acreage has gone down from last year due to poor price realization for the farmers and the area has shifted predominantly to maize.

The Fact Sheet Stats

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Simultaneously, workshops, seminars and public meetings are also being organized to maximize its impact by creating awareness among the cotton growers and to motivate them to follow the Best Management Practices for improving quality of cotton and reducing the level of contamination.

(With inputs from foreign agriculture service, USDA)


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