Ranking of Sustainable Cotton market in India

Textile Sphere Sustainable Cotton market in India

Ranking of Sustainable Cotton Market in India
Shantanu Chaudhari, Anshul Matani
Department of Textile Technology
Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute Mumbai Maharashtra 

A study has been attempted to deal with the increase in production of cotton along with its environmental load. Different agricultural practices used in growing of cotton that lead to the environmental strain like indiscriminate use of pesticides and fertilisers, inefficient use of irrigated water with no regard to water quality or water use were discussed. Manny different social, economical and environmental challenges that threatens this sector stability.
In today’s world cultivation of the sustainable cotton has a great priority. A crucial role in securing the future of sustainable cotton market, reducing cotton’s environmental impacts and improving labours condition is played by the companies that depend on cotton as a raw material. Negative impacts of cotton production are not even considered or addressed by the large companies that uses cotton as their raw material.
An overview of the cotton market and the need for sustainable agricultural practices that would balance economic, social and environmental factors.
Keywords—Cotton, Agriculture, Environment, Economics.

Cotton is versatile fiber which is used in different sectors like clothing, medical, in bank notes etc. This fiber represents 30% of all fibers used in textile industry. This crop is a member of the order Malave’s, family Malvaceae, genus Gossypium. Four most produces species are Gossypium hirsutum (95%), Gossypium barbadense (3%), Gossypium arboretum (2%) and Gossypium herbaceum (1%). Famous for its extra-long length cotton varieties like Egyptian cotton, sea land cotton, pima i.e. American-Egyptian cotton comes under specie of Gossypium barbadense.
Cotton is cultivated in 80 countries most of which are developing and under developed countries. Cultivation of this crop provides income for 100 million families. Most of these cotton growing countries depends largely on this activity it is occupies a large share of their GDP. Cotton export is the only way for these countries for their foreign exchange participation.

Global Production and Trade Flow
Cotton production has increased from 7 million tons in 1950/51 to 26.7 million tons in 2017/18. Top most cotton producing countries are China (27%), India (22%), USA (15%) and Pakistan (8%).
Today China is world largest producer, consumer and importer of cotton. India, Pakistan, Brazil, USA and Bangladesh are the countries having heavy consumption of cotton other than China.

Cotton Consump­tion (million MT)
World Cotton Consumption share (%)
Source: USDA

World largest cotton exporting nations are USA(3.1 million MT), India (1.1 million MT), Australia (0.6 million MT), Brazil (0.4 million MT),

North Zone
Central Zone
South Zone
Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan
Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu
1.36 Million hectares
7.26 Million hectares
2.44 Million hectares
Production (170kg bale)
3.9 Million bales
20.1 Million bales
6.8 Million bales
484 kg/ha
483 kg/ha
493 kg/ha
100% irrigated
Irrigated and rainfed
Irrigated and rainfed
Nature of Genotype
Hybrids and varieties
Hybrids and varieties
Hybrids and varieties
G. hirsutum, G. arboreum
G. hirsutum, G. arboreum, Intra hirsutum, G. Herbaceum
G. hirsutum, G. arboreum, G. herbaceum, G. barbadense, Interspecific tetraploids (HB)
Major Insect/Pest
Heliothis, Whitefly, Jassids, Pink bollworm, Mealy bug
Heliothis, Whitefly, Jassids, Aphids, Pink bollworm, Mealy bug
Heliothis, Whitefly, Jassids, Aphids, Pink bollworm
Leaf curl virus, Wilt
Wilt, Foliar disease
Sowing Method
Drill Sown
Hand dibbling
Hand dibbling
Time of Sowing


Indian Cotton Scenario
In Indian textile industry cotton contributes for around of 59% of raw material share in it. Life of around 5.8 million farmers and other 50 to 60 million people related to it depends on cotton.
Around 30% of globally cultivated cotton area falls in India.
In India cotton cultivation takes place in 3 zones that are:
Northern zone- States of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan
Cen­tral zone- States of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat
Southern zone- States of Andhra Pradesh Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Source: Cotton Corporation of India

In last few years cotton production has a growth rate is with CAGR of 7% to 10% in India. It produces of about 31.2 million bales per year. State wise distribution of cotton production is Gujrat (33%), Maharashtra (26%), Punjab (8.5%). These 3 states only contributes for 76% of cotton growth in India.

Government Initiative
To promote domestic cotton production, processing as well as consumption Government of India (GoI) decided to start some new policies. Some of the key policy initiatives are given below.

National Textile Policy (NTP) 2000:
To replace the textile policy of 1985 which was old and non-productive, GoI decided to start National textile Policy (NTP) in the year 2000. Key features of this policy are :
  • Reduce the ratio between cotton to non-cotton fibres in line with international trends.
  • Encourage full fibre flexibility between cotton and man-made fibres.
  • Encourage modernisation of the spinning sector.
  • Liberalise and encourage export of cotton yarn.
Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS):
To modernize and to increase competitiveness in textile segment GoI started this scheme in April 1999. Because of this scheme a textile firm could take loan at lower interest rate for technical upgradation. This scheme was set to expire on March 2007 but because of demand from this industry, government extended this scheme for another 5 years, i.e. until FY12. Some of the incentives provided under this scheme included:
  • Interest reimbursement at the rate of 5% of the normal interest rate charged by the lending agency or rupee term loan, or
  • Coverage of 5% exchange fluctuation (interest and repayment) from the base rate on foreign currency loan, or
  • Credit-linked capital subsidy of 15% for SSI textile and jute sector, or
  • Credit-linked capital subsidy of 20% for the powerloom sector, or
  • Interest reimbursement at the rate of 5% plus 10% capital subsidy for specified processing machinery.
Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC) 2000:
This scheme was launched in February 2000 with an aim to increase quality & production of cotton in India. The TMC was structured into four mini missions, which were implemented by different nodal agencies. The following table describes the Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC) in brief.


There are some problems that needs strong efforts to solve them in cotton growing. Few of the key problems faced in cotton cultivation are: 

Cotton contamina­tion: Because of upgradation of ginning process cotton contamination has reduced in India but not stopped. The main source of contamination are foreign matter like dust, dirt and plastic items.

Lack of irrigation facilities: In India 65% of the area under cotton cultivation is rain-fed and only 35% of it is irrigated. Because of this cultivation of cotton purely depends on rain.

Government Cotton Policy Interventions: Because of restrictions on exports and frequent changes in the policy cotton traders are always on risk in international market.

Increase cotton yield: Although yields of cotton have increased over a decade, however they are well below world average.

Lack of infrastructure: Because of poor transport infrastructure in India the cost of transporting cotton fibre from one state to another is high.

Problem of admixtures: Different types of cottons has a huge versatility in its physical parameters like strength, length, micronaire, colour and reflectance. In industry these different types of cottons are mixed together.

Competition from other fibres: Because of cotton variable characteristics and due to its dependency on rain for cultivation, this fibre is facing a tough competition from artificial fibres like polyester. 

Cotton Sustainability:
Conventional cotton cultivation is characterised by interconnected environmental, social and economic challenges that threaten the sector’s overall sustainability. The environmental impacts associated with cotton production, such as soil and water pollution, are increasingly coming into focus and reiterating the need for sustainable production systems.
Social challenges especially in developing countries include poor working conditions, with concerns over the incidence of child labour and forced labour. Most of these workers also don’t have health insurance.
In economic terms, farmer incomes are subject to global market volatility. Also, in case of India we don’t have a global multinational textile firm and our consumers are cost sensitive. This results in less investment in sustainable cotton market. In the year 2017 four big Indian companies (Raymond, Aditya Birla fashion & retail, ITC and Arvind lifestyle) were included in a cotton sustainability ranking survey conducted by WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) found that only Arvind Lifestyle and ITC published their cotton sustainability report. But these reports are not accessible for public information.  

As cotton production of cotton has increased it has significantly contributed in development of our country’s economy but side by side it has also resulted on a bad environmental impact. Excessive use of chemicals has resulted in different types of pollution like air, water & soil.
Some of the problems caused by cotton cultivation are:

44.5% of total pesticides used in India, are used for cultivation of cotton. Because of hazardous chemicals, total lack of safety measures, low quality equipment, and unavailability or begin expensive of protective cloth­ing Indian cotton cultivation is very hazardous to both i.e workers and environment.

Source: PK Gupta (2004), Toxicology 2004
6% of total fertilizers used in India, are used in cotton cultivation. Uses of fertilizers results in deposition of Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P) in soil. When Nitrogen dissolves in soil it contaminates ground water and other water bodies because of nitrification. It also reduces alkalinity, pH, dissolved oxygen and promote bacterial growth in water.

Source: www.indistat.com
In India, 69% of cotton cultivated land is rain feed and 31% is irrigated. The share of cotton water used from rainfall to irrigation is 405:133. It’s the quality of the water that affects most of the cotton cultivation because of contamination of water from leaching and run off chemicals in ground and surface water. This also affects the availability of water for other industrial & domestic uses.

Source: Ministry of Water Resource

As per our research study we have found that although cotton sustainability issue is taken seriously in international market, India is still lagging in taking some serious action for cotton sustainability.
Cotton cultivation should be improved along with other supporting mediums like transport, irrigation etc. Use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers should be reduced. As government took initiatives to improve and increase cotton cultivation, it should now bring new schemes to promote sustainable cotton cultivation.
Farmers should me made aware of harmful effects caused by their traditional cultivation of cotton and should be encouraged to cultivate cotton by sustainable practices. Similarly, textile manufactures and consumers should me made aware of environmental strain caused by their inflexibility to produce & purchase fabrics made from sustainable cotton.

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Central Institute of Cotton Research
  • Ministry of Textile, Government of India
  • Cotton Corporation of India
  • PK Gupta (2004), Toxicology 2004 May 20,198(1-3):83-90
  • www.indistat.com
  • Ministry of Water Resource.
  • WWF-India report – Developing a policy framework for promoting better management practices in four cotton states.
  • ICAC, 100% of 100 Facts About Cotton, retrieved on 27 April 2017

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