Government eyes higher cotton exports, but farmers say 'no'

Even as cotton farmers in southern India launched an agitation against export of the fibre, textiles commissioner A B Joshi asserted that export shipments that started on 1 October may top 7 million bales of 165 kg each, compared with 3.3 million bales a year earlier on 11 November.

Joshi told Bloomberg in an interview that cotton exports from India, the second-biggest grower, will more than double this crop season, as China and Pakistan seek more cotton to make up for a shortfall in supplies from the US. Production is forecast to rise 5 per cent to 30.5 million bales after farmers planted the crop to a record area this year, he said.

At the same time, the Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) and the Andhra Pradesh Spinning Mills Association (APSMS) have urged the union government to impose a ban on cotton export from October to September next year and put a stop on registering any further export contracts.

R K Agarwal, member of SIMA and chairman of APSMS, told reporters in Hyderabad.

''The actual cotton production would slip to 26 million bales this year, as against 29 million bales produced during the last season, due to the drought and floods in all major cotton-growing states.''

Agarwal added, ''Of the output during the 2009-10 season, only around 16 million bales are expected to be of above-average quality. If this cotton is exported as against the domestic requirement of 24 million bales, the Indian textile industry would lose its competitive edge in the global market.''

Increased Indian supplies may help cool a rally that has pushed up cotton prices 41 per cent this year in New York amid concern demand will outpace supplies. World output will reach 102.7 million bales, down 1 per cent from last month's estimate, and demand will rise to 113.5 million, more than expected last month, the US department of agriculture said on Tuesday.