The textile and clothing industry, which is facing high raw material costs, has sought duty-free import of cotton with quantitative restrictions.

Textile machinery manufacturers are delivering almost two lakh spindles a month, said T. Rajkumar, chairman of Confederation of Indian Textile Industry.

This means that substantial addition of production capacity has been taking place. Thus, cotton consumption by textile mills during the current cotton season, which ends on September 30, is likely to be higher at close to 340 lakh bales while cotton production is estimated to be almost 350 lakh bales, compared with 360 lakh bales in the previous season.

Every year, 40-45 lakh bales turn out to be of poor quality, which is unusable. This year, the yield is said to be lower, apart from quality issues. Cotton prices have reached ₹80,000 a candy, rising from ₹43,300 in January 2021 and ₹57,000 a candy on October 1, 2021. There is hardly any cotton arriving at the markets, according to Ravi Sam, chairman, Southern India Mills’ Association.

“The best of mills have just one-and-a-half months’ cotton stock,” he added. The Centre must permit 30 lakh bales of duty-free import of cotton for April-September, and that too only by end-users of cotton, Mr. Rajkumar and Mr. Sam urged.

Mills have to start booking cotton now to ensure shipments in April-May. “If this is not done, textile industry will [face] a disaster in March-April,” Mr. Sam said. Atul Ganatra, president, Cotton Association of India, said there are indications that the area under cotton would increase 20-25% for the next season. The government should increase the minimum support price for extra long staple varieties by 25% and for other varieties by only 3-5 %.

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