Context: The farmers from Maharashtra have decided to cut the cotton crop area in the coming Kharif season and divert it to tur/arhar(pigeon pea).
Production and yield of cotton for the last 5 years
(in lakh hectares)
(Lint in Kg/ha)
- Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus Gossypium.
- The fiber is almost pure cellulose and can contain minor percentages of waxes, fats, pectins, and water.
- It is native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world.
- It is one of the largest users of water among all agricultural commodities.
- It is a Kharif crop that is largely dependent on rainfall patterns and grows in the months of April to May.
Geographical Conditions Required for Cotton Cultivation
- Warm climate (25 or more).
- Plenty of sunshine during growing seasons cooler during harvest therefore cultivated between 30-30 N-S.
- Long growing periods of at least 200 frost-free days are necessary for plants to grow.
- Extremely sensitive to frost
- Moderate to light (51 to 110 cm) without irrigation.
- Better quality fiber can be obtained in semi-arid and even arid conditions with irrigation facilities. Because a dry environment inhibits the spread of pests and irrigation provides a controlled supply of water.
- Cotton needs a minimum of 5-6 irrigations, especially during the flowering, bud, and boll formation stages.
- Medium loam with good drainage which gives good support in windy or stormy weather.
- Mineral nutrient requirements are high.
- Very exhaustive of soil. Therefore, high demand for fertilizer and manures.
- Best grown on flat (no flooding) or undulating lands which facilitate the use of machinery.
- The United States and developed regions have highly mechanized farms -> economies of scale.
- Flat and gently sloping land is best for irrigation.
- Highly labour intensive, except in the developed world.
- In the USA, there was slavery in the cotton industry before mechanization.
Cotton Producing Country
- Luxury in Europe until the 18th Century. (Before the Industrial revolution mechanized spinning and weaving started)
- Major crop of Americas, Africa, Egypt, India, and China for centuries.
- In the 19th century, US and UK became major centers of textile manufacturing.
- Currently, five countries make up around 75% of global cotton production: China, India, the United States, Brazil, and Australia with China being the world’s biggest producer.
Cotton Producing States
- India produces all four types of cotton:
(a) American cotton,
(b) Asian cotton,
(c) Egyptian cotton and
(d) African cotton.
- Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Telangana are the major cotton-producing states which produce about 65% of cotton production in the country.
Reason for declining cotton production in India
- This is because of:
- Relative Price: The disappointment with prices of kapas (raw un-ginned cotton) has crashed from the heady highs in past years.
- Crop Duration: Kapas is a long-duration crop harvested over 4-5 pickings. The first picking itself takes 100-120 days, with subsequent ones following every 15-20 days. That makes it a 160-200 days crop, as against 100-120 days of other crops. Farmers sowing the latter have more flexibility, therefore, to take a second crop during the rabi (winter-spring) season.
- Monsoon uncertainties: Cotton needs a minimum of 5-6 irrigations, especially during the flowering, bud, and boll formation stages and other crops like tur don’t need more than 2-3 irrigations. The reduction could be more if rainfall isn’t good. Only a third of India’s cotton area is under irrigation. The rest is entirely rainfed.
Impact of declining cotton production
- Economic Impact: India is one of the largest cotton producers and exporters globally. A decline in cotton production can lead to reduced exports, resulting in a negative impact on foreign exchange earnings.
- Employment: The cotton sector is labour-intensive, providing employment opportunities for millions of people and affecting both rural and urban populations employed in activities like farming, harvesting, ginning, textile production, and related industries.
- Textile Industry: India’s textile industry heavily depends on cotton as a raw material. Shrinking cotton production can result in a scarcity of domestically sourced cotton, leading to increased import dependency and potentially higher raw material costs for textile manufacturers. This can impact the competitiveness of Indian textiles in the global market.
- Input Industries: Cotton production requires various inputs, such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and machinery and affects the agricultural input industry.