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Eco-Friendly Fabric Demands Propel Organic Cotton Farming in India

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Barku Jairam, a 55-year-old farmer from Barwani of Madhya Pradesh, has taken up cultivating organic cotton, which he claims, has significantly brought down input costs besides ensuring a decent yield.

The demand for organic cotton from global apparel companies has prompted 1,000-odd farmers in the state to switch to eco-farming to grow cotton using bio-fertilisers and pesticides manufactured from medicinal plants.

The C&A foundation — the corporate foundation of fashion retail clothing chain C&A — has tied up with a few non-profits in the country to promote organic cotton farming as a part of its efforts to procure sustainable raw material for its business.

Although yields from organic farming are lower than by using Genetically Modified (GM) seed, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, the negligible input cost makes it a profitable business, Jairam said.

 

"Till three years ago, I would earn up to Rs 27,000 per acre when I used GM hybrid seeds but the input cost would be around Rs 20,000 due to expensive chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
representational image. pixabay

 

“Till three years ago, I would earn up to Rs 27,000 per acre when I used GM hybrid seeds but the input cost would be around Rs 20,000 due to expensive chemical pesticides and fertilisers.

“Now, I earn around Rs 20,000 per acre but the input cost has reduced to just Rs 5,000,” Jairam told IANS.

Farmers like Jairam produce bio-fertiliser for free from manure and agricultural waste from their fields and pesticides from extracts of medicinal plants such as neem, karanj (pongamia), ratanjot (alkanet root), besharam (ipomoea) and custard apple leaves along with cow urine.

 

Non-profits Aga Khan Foundation and Action for Social Advancement are helping the C&A Foundation in promoting and procuring organic cotton.

According to the Union Agriculture Ministry, 30.01 million bales (of 170 kg each) of cotton — roughly 5.1 billion tonnes — were produced in the country in 2015-16.

 

"Till three years ago, I would earn up to Rs 27,000 per acre when I used GM hybrid seeds but the input cost would be around Rs 20,000 due to expensive chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
cotton plant. pixabay

 

The ministry, however, doesn’t give out the breakup of organically grown cotton vs other methods.

At 60,184 tonnes, India was the largest organic cotton producer in the world in 2015-16, accounting for 56 per cent of the total production of 107,980 tonnes while Madhya Pradesh accounted for 24 per cent, as per the C&A Foundation. Organic cotton accounted for less than one per cent of cotton produced globally.

Another farmer, Dhansingh Ghana, said hybrid seeds for organic farming were provided for free for first three years by the foundation as incentives to make them self-reliant.

“Even if we will have to pay for seeds now, the input cost would not be much as major components such as bio-fertilisers and pesticides are still free,” said Ghana.

According to these farmers, who had come to the state’s capital Bhopal to attend an event on organic farming, the foundation gave them Rs 200-300 more per quintal when compared with the government rates.

 

According to the Union Agriculture Ministry, 30.01 million bales (of 170 kg each) of cotton -- roughly 5.1 billion tonnes -- were produced in the country in 2015-16. The ministry, however, doesn't give out the breakup of organically grown cotton vs other methods.
Organic Cotton Balls, Pixabay

 

Anita Chester, Head of Sustainable Raw Materials of C&A Foundation, said the negative impact of climate change has driven brands across the globe to look for sustainable alternatives.

“The way climate change is impacting all of us, the whole industry thinks that the businesses have to be more responsible.

“In this inequitable world, there is growing consciousness that there has to be more equity in what we do. This is what drives the brands to push themselves and set targets to source sustainable materials,” she said.

Organic cotton production needs 93 per cent less water as compared to the conventional cotton cultivation, according to the foundation. It also said the climate change impact is of 338.5 kg CO2 equivalent by organic cotton as opposed to 680.2 kg CO2 equivalent by conventional cotton.

"Till three years ago, I would earn up to Rs 27,000 per acre when I used GM hybrid seeds but the input cost would be around Rs 20,000 due to expensive chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
cotton plantation, pixabay

The brands have sustainability commitment and so the demand for organic material is very strong now, said Chester.

“They are giving clear signal that organic is important and special. So it needs to grow,” she said.

Chester said her foundation supports the farmers who want to go organic through capacity building and helping them in getting certification, which helps them to link with the markets.

While there are hurdles such as non-availability of seeds, lack of input agencies, poor market links for organic farming, the foundation is bringing all stakeholders, including the government to cross the barriers, she said.

"Till three years ago, I would earn up to Rs 27,000 per acre when I used GM hybrid seeds but the input cost would be around Rs 20,000 due to expensive chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
cotton plant. pixabay

Faiz Kidwai, Managing Director of the Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Marketing Board, sought a fixed price for farmers to promote organic cotton.

“There is a huge potential for organic farming in the state but farmers are not keen on doing it because they do not see any benefits due to lack of market, supply chain or value chain.

Also Read: Let Linen be Your Saviour This Summer

“We will have to assure fixed market price to bring them on board,” Faiz told reporters on the sidelines of the event. (IANS)

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Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Fall

Both in Delhi and Kolkata, diesel prices in the fortnight have declined

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Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Falls
Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Falls, flickr

Domestic petrol prices, which had hit record levels for 16 consecutive days in May, have been on the reverse trend for the last 13 days, including Monday, but the relief for consumers has been slow in coming.

The pace of decline has been less than half the rate of surge.

Percentage-wise, since May 30, when prices started to take a downturn, petrol prices have slipped 2.35 per cent in Delhi, compared to the 5.5 per cent in the previous 16 days.

In absolute terms, prices have gone down by Rs 1.85 a litre since May 30, compared to the increase of Rs 3.8 per litre in the during May 14-29. On Monday, fuel was sold at Rs 76.58 per litre in the national capital, down 20 paise from Sunday’s level, the IndianOil Corp’s website showed.

In Mumbai, where petrol prices were the highest in the country last month, the decline has been much slow at Rs 1.23 per litre so far, against the rise of Rs 3.76 a litre during May 14-29.

On Monday, petrol price in Mumbai was Rs 84.41 per litre against Rs 84.61 on Sunday. Similarly, in Kolkata and Chennai, the fuel was sold at Rs 79.25 and Rs 79.48 respectively.

In Kolkata and Chennai too, the decline has been Rs 1.81 and Rs 1.65 per litre in the last 13 days, around 50 per cent of the previous rate of increase.

In tandem with petrol prices, diesel too has seen a decline, but of only around 2 per cent in all the major cities including Delhi, compared to over 5 per cent rise in the previous fortnight.

Petrol station
Petrol station, flickr

Both in Delhi and Kolkata, diesel prices in the last 13 days have declined by Rs 1.36, and in Mumbai and Kolkata, the fall was of Rs 1.44 and Rs 1.45 per litre respectively.

Also read: Petrol price slashes by 32 paise and diesel price by 85 paise

On Monday, prices of the fuel in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai were at Rs 67.95, Rs 70.50, Rs 72.35 and Rs 71.73 per litre, respectively. (IANS)