Cotton is one of the most important fiber as well as cash crop, after the food grains such as wheat and paddy in India. In the country a significant farming population (about 6 million) is based on it and about 40-50 million people are working in the cotton industries directly or indirectly.
India is second largest producer of the cotton after the China. It is mainly produced in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Odisha states of the India. The expected area during the year 2013-14 in India, is 119.78 lakh hectare, which is expected to produce 375 lakh bales (each bale of 170 kg). The main states producing cotton are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and it is expected that during the year 2013-14, it will be grown on 26.91, 38.72, 21.42 lakh hectare with the production of 116.00, 81.00, 72.00 lakh bales respectively.
China produces about 32% of the world production followed by India 23%, US 12%, Pakistan 9% and so on. Previously US was producing more cotton than India as the data of 1990-91 shows, US produced 18% and India produced 10% of the world production. But in the previous decade India preformed well and crossed US production.
The area under cotton in the world was about 36 million hectare in 2011-12, which was cultivating on around 33 million hectare two decades back, indicates the increase by 10%. It is more significant to say that the yield during this period has increased significantly from about 550 kilogram per hectare to 759 kilogram per hectare showing improvement of 36% in yield.
Cotton, being the major source for fine clothing and also required at the time of medical treatments, is consumed all over the world. The global maximum consumption is in China (23%), India 10%, Pakistan (7%), US (10%), Turkey (3%), Indonesia (2%), Thailand (2%) etc. The main exporting countries of the cotton are US, India, Uzbekistan, Australia, Brazil, while the main importers are China, Bangladesh, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan.
Since the US leads in export with the 41% share in the global exports, it tends to play major role in pricing on the export front and China being the largest producer and consumer, affects the trends in production and consumption of cotton of the global trade.
The size of holding being small in the country, a farmer has poor holding capacity, not being able to manage the scientific transportation and storing facilities, immediately will have to take to the nearby market in open vehicles, boosting the deterioration with dirt and dust. Even manual picking is done which contaminates the cotton fiber with other trash materials. In the market yards, the attempt is to carry out the auction/sale in vehicles, but sometimes it is unloaded on the platform in the market yard for auction/sale.
After the auction/sale, again the produce is unloaded on the platform in the open in ginning factory, before the ginning starts. Cotton, being the fine lint, requires covered handling to save it from contamination, which is not available due to inadequate infrastructure at farms, markets, and ginning industries level.