Gujarat, which has long been a hub for premium cotton for textile mills in Tamil Nadu, in the wake of increased adulteration with substances like comber noil and other cotton waste by Gujaratâ€™s ginners, they has drastically cut back their cotton procurement.
The Southern India Millsâ€™ Association (SIMA) seeks the Union textile ministry intervention in this regard. Till the year before last, Tamil Naduâ€™s mills used to procure about 50-60 lakh bales from Gujarat alone.
Last year, owing to adulteration, procurement was reduced by almost 60% and shifted to other states. This year, they are seeing a similar trend. Probably the practice of adulteration is only followed by 10% of ginners in Gujarat, but as an association, they are worried about farmers in Gujarat.
If prices drop because the products are not quality-compliant, what will the poor farmers do, said K Selvaraju, secretary general of SIMA.
Interestingly, the prices for cotton waste like comber noil, which is used in large quantities for currency printing and medical textiles, have also seen an increase over the last couple of months. From R60 per kg in October, cotton waste is now sold at R80 per kg. Several mills in Tamil Nadu allege this is due to increased demand by ginners in Gujarat, who are looking to mix the waste with virgin cotton. More than 50% of the cotton used by mills in Tamil Nadu are from Gujarat.
Selvaraju said that Tamil Naduâ€™s mills consume about 120 lakh bales of cotton annually, but only five to six lakh bales are produced by the state. The Tirupur cluster alone requires 60 lakh bales, most of which is sourced from Gujarat. Last year, they had committed to the government that they would bring 20 lakh bales of cotton from Gujarat to Tamil Nadu through coastal shipping.
However, not even one third of that quantity was procured by coastal shipping due to bad quality of the cotton. Many of the larger mills, which each require about six lakh bales of cotton, shifted their procurement to Telangana and Maharashtra. This year also, many of their members have said that they will shift to other places.â€
Meanwhile, ginners in Gujarat are not worried about Tamil Naduâ€™s mills shifting of purchase orders. Dilip Patel, president of All Gujarat Ginnersâ€™ Association, said that only about 20% of cotton produced in Gujarat is sent to mills in south India. Earlier, the demand was more but now the consumption by local mills has increased along with export orders. By later this year, about 40 lakh spinning units are expected to come up in Gujarat alone, which will increase the stateâ€™s consumption to 65 lakh bales.
According to Patel, Gujaratâ€™s Textile Policy 2012, which lapses in September this year, has given a great push to the local market. Adulteration is prevalent in Gujarat, but local mill owners know who to buy it from. So, most people donâ€™t face problems during purchasing. This year, the quality is lowered and the prices are subsequently lower as well. However, the problem is not unique to Gujarat. Even in Maharashtra, people are now beginning to mix waste with the raw cotton.
The adulteration in quality cotton pulls down the image of the state. They can omit those traders and mills who mix waste to good cotton, and deal only with the scrupulous ginners. The government and the ginnersâ€™ association should work together to find a common resolution.
According to data on the website of the Cotton Corporation of India, Gujarat accounted for production of 94 lakh bales, with a yield of 588 kg per hectare on an area of 27.19 lakh hectare in 2015-16. For the year 2016-17, the production is projected at 95 lakh bales, with a yield of 673 kg per hectare on an area of 24 lakh hectares.
SIMA is keen to work with Gujaratâ€™s ginners as a team and curtail the adulteration, rather than shift from the state.
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