Cotton Association of India (CAI) retained its cotton crop estimates for the season 2019-20 (which begins from October 1, 2019) at 354.50 lakh bales.

This is despite the fact that the industry will see some impact due to the lockdown.

CAI, president, Atul Ganatra talks to Free Press Journal’s Jescilia Karayamparambil impact of Coronavirus and its subsequent lockdown on the industry.

Edited excerpts:

Do you think consumption of medical textiles will increase demand for cotton?

Many companies have started mask (or other medical textiles) production in India (in times of Coronavirus), but that will not impact the consumption of cotton. Cotton consumption is from cotton to yarn. In fact, cotton consumption is likely to drop due to this lockdown. This is mainly because spinning mills are closed for the last 15 days.

Do you see a drop in demand coming from Bangladesh? Can a country like China become major importer?

There will be good demand coming from Bangladesh as soon as the lockdown will be over. We are expecting good demand from China as well. But that does not mean China will overtake Bangladesh in terms of import of cotton from India. The export will pick up but we will have to wait and watch when will the lockdown end — that uncertainty is prevailing in this condition.

Is the procurement of cotton taking place or everything is in standstill?

There is no procurement that is taking place in the country. It has been stopped everywhere, even Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has stopped the purchase of Minimum Support Price (MSP) cotton because APMC markets are not working. CCI will start procurement of cotton once APMC markets open.

There has been the depreciation of Indian rupees. Do you see that as good news for exporters?

Definitely, depreciation of rupees will work in favour of exporters.

What is happening with the stocks that are lying in the warehouses?

The major portion of the stock— around 90-95 per cent— is lying with the government agencies like CCI and federations. Once they start functioning them only things will move.

Summers are nearing. Do we see farmers being hit with a shortage of water already?

That we do not know yet. At present, we do not even know if the farmers have been able to get access to seeds for sowing in time. This is usually the time when farmers in the North are given seeds. In the month of May, the farmers sow the seeds. We don't know what is going to happen. We will wait and watch. But definitely, there will be an impact in this cropping cycle.

Has plucking of cotton taken place?

The cotton that is lying in the field has not been plucked. This is mainly due to manpower constraints. We do not know what the position of the crops will be. We will know in times to come if the crop is destroyed or not. We will know about it mostly in 10 days or so.

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