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Course: Expected Questions Geo-Mains Paper GS- 1 Presented by Ashna Sisodia
Question 46: India is set to become the world's largest producer of cotton in 2014-15, yet India faces numerous problems thanks to local and global factors. Critically examine. (200 Words)
Answer Despite a bumper harvest and a rapid increase in production over the last decade due to technology improvements, the cotton industry in India faces various problems. Low international demand: Cotton in India is a very export oriented industry. As such, various global and local factors affect it: 1. China, the biggest market of cotton yarn for India, is reducing its imports to consume its own stockpile of cotton produced domestically 2. Increasing international competition: Major importers like Bangladesh are also finding it cheaper to import from countries like Pakistan and USA. 3. slump in the EU: About 60% of our cotton and textiles are exported to the EU which is facing a recession which has also resulted in low demand. 4. Removal from the Focus Market Scheme: Cotton producers no longer enjoy the benefit of reduced freight and transportation costs, raising prices and hence making the productive less competitive internationally. 5. Competition with cheaper synthetic fibers.
There are other, more long term factors at play that contribute to the present predicament: 1. Low yield: Although we are set to become the largest producer, our yield is roughly half of that of the USA which has a much lower under cultivation 2. Rain fed: Except for the Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan regions which enjoy a healthy network of canals, most of the regions in Central India which make the bulk of our cotton are rainfed. 3. Transgenic varieties, fertilizers and pesticides have been excessively used to spurt production. This has contributed to adverse effects like deteriorating soil health. pollution of groundwater and freshwater resources, harmful effects on beneficial species of insects. Deepwater drilling is also practiced which has depleted the water table.
The government has tried to alleviate these problems, with steps like: 1. Market intervention: CCI is mandated to procure cotton from the farmers if Market prices fall below MSP. 2, Power subsidy to cotton farmers. For the long term though, the focus should be on 1. Temporarily increasing MSP to provide momentary relief 2. Exploring new markets for export reducing overreliance on tradition Customers 3. Trying to migrate individuals from farming to industry to spur manufacturing 4. Promoting alternative and profitable crops other than cotton, and focusing on increasing the yield on existing areas
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