I am happy to inform you that the textile industry is showing the signs of recovery after going through an unprecedented tough time due to demonetization, rollout of GST, rupee appreciation and uncompetitive market situation. As per RBI Financial Stability Report – June 2018, the stressed advance ratio of textile sub-sector has improved in March 2018 from the levels of September 2017. Report by RBI states that textile sector has reported a high transmission of stress to the banking sector. However, we expect recovery owing to rupee depreciation, picking up of domestic demand and progressive policies of the Government.
I recently attended with my colleagues the Stakeholders Meeting on Natural Fibres chaired by the Hon’ble Union Minister of Textiles, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani in New Delhi. The meeting deliberated on the various critical aspects of Natural Fibres, including cotton which is the mainstay of the textile industry. The major points discussed during the meeting included, industry requirements of natural ﬁbres; requirements of cotton (quality & quantity) that industry imports; suggestions to improve export of natural ﬁbres; measures to reduce cotton contamination, spurious seeds; steps to improve production and yield of cotton, especially Extra Long Staple (ELS) variety; creation of Indian brand of cotton; etc.
CITI submitted a detailed note on the above cotton issues to Hon’ble Union Minister of Textiles and recommended that in order to increase the cotton yield, there is an urgent need of bringing in the right quality cotton seeds which will prevent pest attacks. Apart from that High Density Planting Systems (HDPS) and mechanized plucking of cotton may be adopted. For reducing cotton contamination, Ministry of Textiles may introduce a “Quality Certiﬁcation System” in consultation with all the stakeholders. Kapas could be graded based on the dirt and trash content while deciding the MSP. CITI also highlighted that India is presently importing about 15 lakh bales of cotton in a year mainly from USA, Australia, Egypt, Brazil, African and other western hemisphere countries. Two key reasons pointed out by CITI for high level of cotton imports were deﬁcit of ELS variety of cotton and high level of cotton contamination. We have urged the Government to provide direct subsidies to ELS Cotton growers to encourage farmers to grow these varieties. Apart from that, awareness regarding the disadvantages of contamination of cotton should be spread among the farmers and handpicking machines, caps, bags, etc. are to be made available at aﬀordable costs. Also, SUVIN ELS cotton, which is regarded as the ﬁnest quality of cotton in the world should be encouraged by the Government. To improve the status of ELS Cotton in India, branding of Indian ELS Cotton should be done as for SUPIMA of USA and GIZA of Egypt. CITI has also recommended launch of TMC II (Technology Mission on Cotton) at the earliest and to consider CITI-CDRA as part of TMC II. In addition, best practices may be adopted in Ginning & Pressing factories.
We have also submitted detailed information of CITI-CDRA, which is the research wing of CITI cotton development activities in India, established in 1970 by then the Indian Cotton Mills Federation, ICMF (earlier name of CITI). CITI-CDRA had launched a collaborative project with Bayer Crop Science for promoting ELS cotton in Banswara district of Rajasthan two years back. The results were found very encouraging and there is a substantial increase in its production and yield and thereby increase in farmer’s income. To scale up its activities, we are replicating the cotton collaborative project in Ratlam, Dhar and Jhabua districts of Madhya Pradesh with the help of local Government and Bayer Crop Science.
In our recent representation to Ministry of Textiles, we have pointed out that the embedded duties, which are in the range of 4 to 6% across the value chain are not getting refunded. This is one of the key factors for decline in exports apart from blockage of funds due to delay in GST refunds and rupee appreciation. If industry timely gets refund of all duties and taxes on exports across the value chain, it will bring the textile industry on a faster recovery path.
I, personally feel, the biggest game changer that could transform the industry and put it at par with its competitors such as Vietnam and Bangladesh is Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with EU, Australia, Canada and Britain for made-ups and garments & reduction of import duty on Indian cotton yarn and fabric by China. However, I am very optimistic that Government would intervene in the matter and continue to support the textile industry as it is one of the unique industries, well-being of which directly impacts more than 4 crore farmers and 10 crore labour workforce (particularly women) in a very big way across the breadth of the country.