1. Agriculture World

Organic Cotton Output is On the Rise, with M.P. and Odisha Leading the Way

India’s cotton production of over 360 lakh bales (about 6.12 million tonnes) accounts for around 25 percent of the global output of fiber.

Ayushi Raina
India produces 1.23 million tonnes (mt) of organic cotton, accounting for 51% of the worldwide organic cotton production of 2.40 mt.
India produces 1.23 million tonnes (mt) of organic cotton, accounting for 51% of the worldwide organic cotton production of 2.40 mt.

India's cotton production of about 360 lakh bales (around 6.12 million tonnes) accounts for nearly 25% of the world's cotton output. 

India produces 1.23 million tonnes (mt) of organic cotton, accounting for 51% of the worldwide organic cotton production of 2.40 mt.

China, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Tanzania, the United States, Uganda, Greece, Benin, Peru, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Brazil, Mali, and Argentina are the other organic cotton-producing nations. 

However, due to high production costs, lower demand, and farmers switching to illicit GM seeds, organic cotton production is confined to a few states. 

Increased Output 

Organic cotton output has increased in the last five years, despite the development of illegal herbicide-tolerant Bt (HTBt) cotton seeds in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and other states. However, the production of organic cotton is centered in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha and Rajasthan. In the last five years, these states have produced 1861926 tonnes of organic cotton accounting for 99 percent of total cotton production in India. 

According to statistics presented to Rajya Sabha last month by the Ministry of Textiles, the output of organic cotton in 2020-21 has been 8,10,934 tonnes, up from 3,35,712 tonnes in 2019-20 and 3,12,876 tonnes in 2018-19. 

Madhya Pradesh leads the organic cotton producer chart, accounting for 38% of total output over the last five years, followed by Odisha (20%) and Maharashtra (19 per cent).

The other two major organic cotton producers are Gujarat (15%) and Rajasthan (8%). 

Interestingly, the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is launching a cotton development initiative in 15 major cotton-growing states as part of the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) to increase output and productivity. But as per the government data, only eight States have produced organic cotton in the last five years.  

Organic Cotton Farming 

During 2017-21, the -Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) and the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on cotton have published 64 non-Bt (non-GM) cotton varieties/hybrids that organic cotton producers can adopt. More than 6.5 million cotton farmers labor directly in cultivation, with an additional 10.5 million employed in allied industries. India is also the world's second-largest consumer, with an estimated consumption of 303 lakh bales (of 170 kg each). 

“It will take time to shift a major portion of cotton cultivation to organic cotton. But farmers are considering organic as the option. The government must ensure that the demand for organic cotton in India and abroad increases,” says Beed-based farmer Vilak Nakhate who is into organic cotton cultivation. 

Farmers are involved in organic cotton cultivation claim that organic textiles are a low-volume business with little market due to high pricing. 

According to the Organic Trade Association, organic cotton is farmed in a way that minimizes environmental impact by replenishing and maintaining soil fertility, expanding biologically varied agriculture, and prohibiting the use of synthetic toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. 

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