New Delhi, Thursday April 14, 2022: Inaugurating the Golden jubilee event of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry- Cotton Development & Research Association (CITI-CDRA) at Vigyan Bhawan on 12th April 2022, the Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu called upon the need to renew the Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC). The Hon’ble Vice President stated that “Technology Mission on Cotton, a unique scheme introduced by the former Hon’ble Prime Minister, Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, enabled the country to become the world’s largest cotton producer by increasing the yield per hectare from 275 kgs to 585 kgs.”

The Vice President of India expressed his concern that despite being the largest cotton producer (23%) in the world and having the highest area under the cotton cultivation (39% of world area), the yield in India remained at a low of 460 kg lint per hectare when compared to the world average of 800 kg lint per hectare. The Hon’ble Vice President said that “we need to improve our seed technology, increase yield, adopt global best practices, produce clean and high-quality cotton and brand it better to improve the farmers’ income and enhance the global competitiveness of the textile industry.” The Hon’ble Vice President cited that “we must capitalize further on our traditional strengths, abundant resources, and bring in technological and modern agronomic practices into the cotton industry to further consolidate our position as global leader”.

The Vice President congratulated CITI-CDRA for completing 50 years of its service and applauded for its concerted efforts towards improving the production, productivity and quality of Indian Cotton. During the event, the Hon’ble Vice President conferred awards to excelling cotton scientists and farmers in CITI-CDRA Project Areas and also released a Coffee Table Book – ‘Millennial Shades of Cotton’.

The Union Minister of Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal while delivering his KeyNote address informed that “New Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreements with Australia and UAE would open infinite opportunities for Indian Textiles, Handloom, Footwear etc.” and expressed confidence that soon Europe, Canada, UK and GCC countries would also welcome Indian textile exports at zero duty. Hon’ble Union Minister said that the world today is looking for alternative manufacturing sourcing hubs owing to geopolitical reasons and the Indian Textile Industry is in a very sweet spot to grab this opportunity and hit ‘Mauke pe Chauka’. Hon’ble Union Minister of Textiles called upon Indian cultivators to adopt new technologies and global best farm practices. Hon’ble Union Minister cited that as cotton crop is sensitive to spraying, the use of AI technology is enabling farmers in Australia to control spraying operations through data-driven decision making. Hon’ble Union Minister opined that “we must augment the capacity of Indian farmers who are already very talented and capable, to make them experts in allied areas as well”. Hon’ble Union Minister of Textiles called upon the nation to work together to achieve the 5F vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister for textiles – Farm to Fiber to Factory to Fashion to Foreign. The Hon’ble Minister also said that “we must aim for global dominance in organic cotton and urged the nation to be Vocal for Local and take Local to Global.”

The Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar while delivering the Valedictory Address stated that “Cotton is one of the most important crops of India as it provides employment to millions of people and under the able guidance of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Government is continuously working towards not just improving the cotton cultivation in India but also for the progress of all farmers”. The Hon’ble Minister said that it is the hard work of farmers, the research of scientists and the contribution of industries, which has led to the development of Indian cotton sector. Hon’ble Minister cited that during the various sessions of the event, there has been a lot of serious brainstorming amongst the panelists on various aspects of cotton which can provide basis for preparing a roadmap for the development of cotton and bring about a change. The Hon’ble Minister said that “people associated with agriculture have played a better role even in adverse times of COVID” and congratulated them for the same. Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture assured the august gathering that the Government would leave no stone unturned for the overall development of the cotton sector.

The Hon’ble Minister of State for Textiles and Railways, Smt. Darshana Vikram Jardosh in her Special Address stressed the need for all the stakeholders across the cotton value chain to jointly work with the Government for the development of Indian cotton sector and thereby addressing the issues relating to cotton. The Hon’ble Minister of State for Textiles thanked all the stakeholders of the Textile & Apparel industry for their contribution towards the achievement of US$ 418 bn merchandise export target for 2021-22. The Hon’ble Minister informed that “under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Government is taking various policy measures to enable India to become a world leader not only in the Cotton Sector but also in the Man-Made Fibre Segment with the Introduction of Schemes like Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme, PM Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel (PM MITRA) Park Scheme and many more”. The Hon’ble Minister said that the Government is aware of the industry’s demand for Technology Mission on Cotton 2.0 and assured the stakeholders that Government will take all the policy measures necessary for the holistic development of the Indian cotton sector.

In his welcome address, CITI-Chairman, Shri T. Rajkumar informed that at present CITI-CDRA is operational in about 1700 villages of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan by directly engaging about 90,000 cotton farmers. Shri Rajkumar cited the importance of quality cotton for the Indian Textile Industry and thanked the Hon’ble Vice President for advocating the Government to launch the Technology Mission on Cotton 2.0 to address the dire needs of the farmers and the industry.  He expressed concerns over the stagnated cotton yield in the past few years. Shri Rajkumar said that “the various policy initiatives and the opportunities emerged post-COVID scenario have accelerated the business growth of the cotton textile value chain and as a result industry is anticipating shortage of 40-50 lakh bales of cotton during the current season and it is likely to increase further in the coming years.” To deal with this increasing demand and work towards developing India’s cotton yield, Shri Rajkumar appealed to the Government to implement the Technology Mission on Cotton 2.0 at the earliest and help the cotton industry to increase its cotton yield at least to the tune of 750 kgs per hectare in the medium term.

Chairman, CITI-CDRA Standing Committee on Cotton & Past Chairman, CITI, Shri P.D. Patodia proposed Vote of Thanks and assured the Hon’ble Vice-President and Hon’ble Union Textile Minister that CITI-CDRA will leave no stone unturned towards the development of cotton fibre not only in its project areas but also in other parts of the country as well.