Indian Cotton Scenario
Amongst all the cotton growing countries of the world, India ranks number one in cotton cultivation area spreading out to about 95 lakh hectares. Although only the second in cotton production in the world, India has several distinctions to its credit. India is the only country in the world that grows on a commercial scale all four cultivated species of cotton viz., Gossypium Arboreum, Gossypium Herbacium, Gossypium Hirsutum and Gossypium Barbadense.
Today, there are more than one hundred improved varieties and hybrids belonging to these four species being grown in different parts of the country. We are also the first to cultivate hybrid cotton on a commercial scale. India can take pride in being the only country that grows the complete range of staples from short and coarse unspinnable Assam Comillas to the extra long superfine cotton Suvin which matches with Giza 45 of Egypt in fibre quality and spins 120s count. The ginning outturn of the Indian cotton also presents a wide spectrum of variations from 24% to 42%.
In crop duration, there are varieties in India that complete their life cycle in about 145 days while some others take as long as 270 days. The period of growth of cotton is also widely variable from region to region and, in fact, cotton is planted and processed in one part of the country or another throughout the year.
Ginning Scenario of India
The purpose of ginning is to separate cotton fibres from the seed. The ginning process is the most important mechanical treatment that cotton undergoes before it is converted into yarns and fabrics. Any damage caused to the quality of fibres during ginning cannot be rectified later in the spinning or subsequent processes.
The ginning industry in India till recently presented a dismal picture. Most of the ginneries in India were in primitive condition and running with poor efficiency.
There are over 3500 factories in India dispersed in nine major cotton-growing states. Out of these, over 2600 factories perform only ginning operation and over 2000 factories has installed capacity of as small as 6-12 double roller gins.
Over the years, comparisons have always been made between ginning practices in India and abroad and the difference observed in quality of ginned lint, particularly in terms of trash content and presence of contaminants.
The seed cotton which is machine picked and which arrives at the ginning factories with trash content in excess of even 25% in USA, Australia, Uzbekistan and other countries leave their factories in the form of pressed bales with hardly 1% to 2% trash. Even in African countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Egypt, Mali, Benin, Ivory Coast and Chad where the cotton is handpicked like in India, trash content in the bales is comparable with that of US cotton. This is because of good house keeping and the use of pre and post cleaning machines in their ginning system.
In India, on the other hand, the handpicked seed cotton, which arrives in ginning factories with substantially less trash than the machine-picked American or Australian cotton, leaves the factory with higher trash than in these countries. Excessive quantities of foreign matter due to improper picking and ginning practices had earned notoriety for the Indian cotton as the most unclean cotton in the world till recently.
It was well known that foreign matter content and impurities in Indian cotton increased during the 90s of the last century. Impurities such as alien fibres, coloured threads, cloth pieces, human hair, plastic films, paper bits, metallic objects, oil, grease etc. referred to as contaminants had found entry into cotton due to exposure at the farm yard, market yard and the ginnery as well as during transport at different stages. The contribution of ginning factories to contamination is also quiet significant. In the list of “most contaminated” cottons compiled by ICMF on the basis of extensive survey, many of the “best” Indian varieties occupied prime place.
Though the fibre properties of Indian cotton are excellent, it was marred by excessive trash and contamination. Ginneries faced difficulty in addressing these issues due to the seasonal nature of activity, which does not ensure consistent employment of workers. Modernization through technological upgradation was the only solution to ginneries. Among various studies / surveys conducted by different organizations, Textiles Committee also conducted a country wide techno-economic study of ginning & pressing factories covering cotton seasons 1993-94 & 1994-95 and submitted its report with recommendations to Government of India.
Based on these recommendations, Government of India, recognizing the importance of cotton crop in the national economy and the need for improving production, productivity and quality of cotton, set up the Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC) on 12 th June 2000. The modernization focused on farmyards, market yards and ginneries as well. The various components of modernization of ginneries are broadly grouped under major four headings as follows:
I) Essential Machines
II) Essential Infrastructure
III) Essential Conditions
IV) Desirable Machines
- Trained gin / press fitters
- Variety-wise / grade-wise heaping
- Covering of cotton as it arrives
- Contamination detector & eliminator
Status of Modernization
The ginning industry has been on a modernization spree ever since the Government of India launched Technology Mission on Cotton. It is reported that as on today as many as 860 ginning & pressing factories have completed modernization out of 1000 projects approved by Technology Mission on Cotton. It is also reported that about 500 ginning & pressing factories are being modernized under Technology Up-gradation Fund Scheme. With these developments, ginning infrastructure in the country seems to be well on its way to secure a firm foundation. The cotton textile industry in India can look forward to meet its major raw material requirements through indigenous supply of clean cotton.
Need for rating of ginning & pressing factories
As the effects of modernization started becoming visible in cotton quality, the user mills were curious to know the technical merit of modernization and the comparison among the Ginning & Pressing factories. Modernized ginning factories too expected a kind of recognition for the quality of equipment, civil infrastructure, management practices and process conditions being adopted by them to deliver clean cotton. These felt needs necessitated to formulate a scheme of assessment & rating of Ginning & Pressing factories.
The Technology Mission on Cotton a few years ago worked out a methodology for objective assessment and evolved a scheme for rating of ginning & pressing units. TMC carried out assessments for over 350 ginning & pressing factories based on the scheme and discontinued assessment two years ago due limited staff and increase in work load. Now Textiles committee is assigned with the task of rating of ginning & pressing factories by Government of India