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India’s falling cotton production

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Cropping Pattern/ Agriculture


Source: IE

 Context: The article highlights the current issues with India’s cotton production.


About Cotton:

Cotton is a versatile crop known for its white fluffy fibre, oil-rich seeds, and protein-rich seed cake. It has various uses, including textiles, cooking oil, and livestock feed.


Significance of Cotton in India:

  • Triple Role: Cotton in India provides food, feed, and fibre, making it a crucial crop for agriculture and the textile sector.
  • Cotton Components: After harvesting cotton (Kapas), the breakdown is approximately 36% fibre, 62% seeds, and 2% waste.
    • Cottonseed is essential for vegetable oil and feed cake production.
  • Market Contribution: Cottonseed oil is the third-largest domestically produced vegetable oil in India, following mustard and soyabean. It also ranks second in feed cake production, with soybeans leading.
  • Textile Dominance: Cotton is the dominant fibre in India’s textile industry, accounting for about two-thirds of the total consumption.


The impact of Bt technology on cotton production in India:

  • Introduction to Bt Technology (2002): India adopted genetically modified (GM) cotton hybrids embedded with genes from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium, which were toxic to certain pests.
  • Significant Boost in Production and Yield: Between 2000-01 and 2013-14, Bt cotton led to a remarkable increase in cotton production, from 140 lakh to 398 lakh bales, and a doubling of lint yields per hectare from 278 kg to 566 kg.
    • Lint is the fluffy, white fibre of cotton that is used for textiles and fabric production.
  • Subsequent Yield Decline: However, post-2013-14, cotton production and yields started declining, reaching about 343 lakh bales and 447 kg/hectare by 2022-23.


Reasons for the decline of cotton Production in India:

ReasonImpact on Cotton Production in India
Development of Pink Bollworm (PBW) Resistance to Bt CottonInitially, Bt cotton protected against pests like the American bollworm and pink bollworm. But by 2014, pink bollworms developed resistance to Bt proteins, causing widespread infestations and yield reductions.
Shift from Non-Bt Cotton CultivationDecreased diversity in cotton varieties increased the scale of infestation.
Pest Infestation Discouraging FarmersFarmers in some states, like Punjab, avoid cotton cultivation.
Ineffectiveness of Traditional InsecticidesConventional insecticides had limited efficacy against PBW larvae, affecting lint quality and yields.


Solutions to control the Pink Bollworm (PBW):

  • Mating Disruption as a Solution: “Mating disruption” uses synthetic versions of pheromones to confuse male PBW moths, preventing them from mating with females.
    • Products like PBKnot and SPLAT were approved for this purpose.


Government initiatives for the Cotton sector in India:


The textile sector in India: 

India is one of the largest consumers and producers of cotton and jute in the world. 95% of the world’s hand-woven fabric comes from India.

It is the 2nd largest employment provider after agriculture. India is 2nd largest manufacturer of PPE and producer of polyester, silk and fibre in the world.


Insta Links: 


Mains Links:

Analyse the factors for the highly decentralised cotton textile industry in India. (UPSC 2013)