Supply-demand situation, soaring prices, quality, contamination aspects, penetration into value-added sectors are priorities that need the attention of cotton sector stakeholders.
On April 25, a team of key people from Bajaj Coneagle, LLC and its parent company, Nagpur, India-based Bajaj Steel Industries, Ltd., a leading manufacturer of cotton ginning machinery, visited Lubbock to explore the current cotton sector’s situation. As part of the visit, I had the opportunity to gain information about the cotton situation.
With cotton prices at higher levels, discussions focused on what’s next for the industry. With the current drought conditions in the High Plains, if this situation persists, it is expected that cotton yields may suffer in the world’s leading cotton producing region, affecting the supply and demand situation, said Lav Bajaj, business director of Bajaj Steel Industries, Ltd., with a sales turnover of about $60 million related to gin machinery business.
Given such a tight supply situation, competition from synthetics will be high, which necessitates concerted efforts from all industry stakeholders. Recently, clarion calls made by the Indian textile industry has made the government of India suspend import duty on cotton for a specified period.
United States’ cotton sector has established a global name as a producer of consistent quality, which is due to several factors such as machine harvesting, mass scale production, educated producers and the use of technology. This may not be feasible in other regions as farmlands owned by single-family farmers range from half an acre to 10 acres, which influences quality. The visiting team from Bajaj Steel Industries, Ltd., agreed and suggested the Indian cotton sector should use existing resources such as grassroot level education, effective utilization of farm Apps to follow good agronomy practices and marketing.
Agreeing with the current tight supply situation, mills will expect high quality cotton at reasonable price, said Velmurugan Shanmugam, general manager of Aruppukkottai, India-based Jayalakshmi Textiles, which annually consumes about 7,000 tons of cotton and produces 4,800 tons of fine count cotton yarns. In countries like India, it is important that government, textile, and cotton industry aim toward individual bale classification to achieve quality consistency and reliability, Shanmugam said.
In India, cotton is traded at the farm level based on length and mills while purchasing conduct thorough quality evaluation using HVI instrumentation depending on the size and requirement of individual mills. Quality evaluation at single bale level is needed which was expressed by the Bajaj team as well as textile mill representatives like Shanmugam.
Contamination at gin level such as plastics, quality consistency and effective utilization of technology and creating more awareness at farm level should receive priority attention. More importantly, effective management decisions by the stakeholders, given the tight supply of cotton will be the need of the hour, say cotton purchasing and stocking decisions.
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar is a professor in the department of environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University.