Even as the Centre on Monday decided to lift the ban for a specific period on cotton exports to ensure better prices to farmers,cotton traders and experts blamed textile mill owners lobbies for influencing police to ensure cheap supply of raw material for their factories to maximise profits.
Speaking to The Indian Express,Cotton Corporation of Indias (CCI) general manager Shafi Ahmed Shah said that an inconsistent policy on cotton exports due to lack of coordination among the agriculture,textile and commerce ministries not only harmed the interest of farmers but also affected the image of Indian cotton exporters in the international market.
Because of frequent ban on cotton export,he said,the traders were often not able to keep their commitment of exports with international buyers.
Textile manufacturers,according to Ahmed,argue that export of the raw material would raise the production cost for them,which would in turn hike the prices of textile goods in the domestic market and place them poorly in the international competition. Ahmed said it was because of this reason that frequent bans were imposed on cotton exports as also yarn exports.
While textile manufacturers oppose the export,they are at the same time not willing to pay higher prices to compensate the loss to farmers, Ahmed said.
He said the delayed lifting of ban on cotton exports would not benefit farmers since cotton traders had already hoarded the material after buying it from the farmers at cheaper rates. Now,it is the traders who will have the last laugh, Ahmed said.
Maganbhai Patel,president of the state unit of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS),said cotton growers were caught in the cross-fire between various interest groups,with the Congress and BJP only playing politics over it.
Gujarat is the biggest producer of cotton. The demand of the Gujarats cotton (Shankar-6 variety) is the highest in the international market because of its superior quality. About 90 per cent of the material is exported to Bangaldesh and China and the rest to Indonesia,Malaysia and some other countries.
Gujarat accounts for one-third of the total cotton produced in the country. Of an estimated production of 350 lakh bales this year,production in Gujarat is expected to be 120 lakh bales.
Another reason for comparative disadvantage to Gujarati farmers is the lack of textile mills in the state. The state,once known as textile hub of the country,has only four big textile manufacturing units Arvind Mills,Ashima,R B Denims and a government mill belonging to National Textile Corporation,which was revived by Shankarsinh Vaghela when he was the union textile minister in UPA-I government.
Of the total produce in the state,40 per cent is exported and the rest is diverted to the textile mills.