India is now the largest producer of raw cotton and second largest consumer. But still the country lags behind in many aspects, particularly the production of superfine cotton, which today is needed to produce premium cotton products. In India, the share of ELS (extra long staple) cotton production which was 141,000 tonnes in 1991 has come down to 75,000 tonnes in 2013 which works out to 19 per cent of the world ELS production. ELS production presently is just one per cent of the total Indian cotton crop. The major variety of ELS grow in India is DCH ? 32, mainly grown in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. In the Indian textile industry, there are times when excellent initiatives end up with a whimper. In cotton too this has happened. Suvin, which is one of the finest ELS cotton, was grown extensively during 1970s up to 1990 and had a crop of over 14,000 bales. But currently, hardly 1,500 bales of Suvin is grown only in Tamil Nadu. In 2012-13 India produced 120.45 million kg in count group of 61-80s and 41.18 million kg of 81s and above, making a total of 175 million kg. To meet the full requirement, India has to import significant quantities of ELS cotton including Supima from the USA, Giza cotton from Egypt and also some quantities of CIS and Sudan cotton. These imports amount to about 30 per cent of industry?s ELS requirement. In the proposed new National Fibre Policy, which has been widely discussed, there is an anticipated move to give a boost to efforts to produce more quantities of ELS cotton with special emphasis on Suvin. Renewed efforts from the industry and the Government are the need of the hour. Because, the market for long staple and extra long staple cotton is likely to grow substantially in India due to growing demands of finer high value textile for both domestic and export markets.
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