Cotton : Farmers’ Interests Are Supreme

There is a growing feeling among the farmers’ bodies that farmers should have the freedom to market their produce wherever there is demand within and outside the country and the entire country should be treated as a single market. This sounds quite logical in the current era of free market. The ban on cotton exports to protect the powerful textile lobby only helps the textile mill owners who want cheap raw material to increase their profit margins. In view of good demand for cotton in the global markets if farmers want to export their produce to earn some money then it is should not pinch anybody. In any case there is no control on the prices of cloth and garments being sold in the country. Let there be an in-depth study and everybody know the cost structure of cotton farmers and mills. Let each stake holder’s business model be studied to bring out the real facts.

The USDA estimates that world cotton consumption is expected to increase 1.1% in 2016/17 to 112.5 million bales. It expects 2% decline in use in India, caused in part by the demonetization policy, coupled with the long-term trend of declines in East Asia and developed countries. The consumption outside of China is expected to remain flat.

We must accept that export restrictions have been a major factor contributing to cotton growers’ misery in all the major cotton producing States who are denied sustainable prices for their produce. They also face export ban when prices in the international market are rewarding. The ban goes against the farmers’ interests. It only benefits the organized sector mills who face high international prices in addition to shortage of the commodity.

The different stakeholders have different demands depending upon their vested interests.The government must see that no one takes undue advantage of the policies which must be formulated considering the farmers’ interests on top of everything else. Let every stake holder accept this basic point. If everyone, except the farmer, is making money in the value chain then isn’t it shameful for the government and the civil society?

G.D. JASUJA
Managing Editor