Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday called on all stakeholders to make concerted efforts to improve cotton yield and productivity in India to increase farmers’ incomes.
Expressing concern over the low yield of Indian cotton compared to other major cotton growers in the world, Naidu said steps must be taken to guide farmers through better research and adopting best practices.
The Vice President called for increasing the global competitiveness of Indian cotton textiles and “capitalizing on our traditional strengths, shifting to modern agronomic practices and consolidating our position as a global leader in the cotton industry.”
Noting the importance of the textile sector as the country’s second largest employer after agriculture, Naidu emphasized improving agricultural productivity, increasing mechanization, upskilling textile workers and labor of small businesses to give a boost to the sector.
Naidu also suggested diversifying into specialty cottons such as extra long staple (ELS) cotton and organic cotton.
The Vice President made the remarks during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) – Cotton Research and Development Association (CDRA) here.
Referring to the importance of cotton to India’s economy, the Vice President said cotton also has “great symbolic value for our civilizational heritage”.
He recalled that cotton played a crucial role in our struggle for freedom, starting with the “Swadeshi Movement”. He said that by connecting all sections of society, “cotton was one of the most important binding factors for people to fight against the British Raj”.
Naidu expressed concern that despite being the largest cotton producer (23%) in the world and having the largest area under cotton (39% of the world area), the yield per hectare in India remained at a minimum of 460 kg fiber per hectare compared to the world average of 800 kg fiber per hectare.
To remedy this, he called for improving planting density, undertaking the mechanization of cotton harvesting and boosting agricultural research.
Recalling the benefits of the first technology mission on cotton, the vice-president said that it was absolutely necessary to renew the mission in an improved format. “We need to improve our seed technology, increase yield, adopt global best practices, produce clean, high quality cotton and brand it better to improve farmers’ incomes,” he added.
The VP noted that while India has a strong global footprint in cotton yarn, it needs to improve its competitiveness in fabrics and garments.
He called for small business labor and training of textile workers to boost the sector.
The Vice President said government programs such as the Modified Technology Upgrading Fund (A-TUFS) program and SAMARTH (Textile Sector Capacity Building Program) aim to achieve these goals.
While noting the improved competitiveness of India’s traditional textile exports, Naidu said “we cannot ignore emerging sectors such as technical textiles, which are witnessing a rapid increase in demand across the globe.”
On this occasion, Naidu awarded prizes to excellent cotton scientists and farmers in the CITI-CDRA project areas. He also released a Coffee Table Book – “Millennial Shades of Cotton” at the event.
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