Textile Sector – Cotton, Jute, Wool, Silk, Handloom, etc.

Boosting India’s Cotton Production


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cotton crop,Voluntary Sustainable Standards (VSS)

Mains level: Paper 3- Textile industry,Voluntary Sustainable Standards (VSS)


  • Cotton, one of the most important crops, has a strategic role in India’s international agriculture play. India is the world’s third-largest exporter of cotton and the second-largest exporter of textiles, therefore, also contributing significantly to the country’s economy.

All you need to know about the Cotton crop

  • Rainfall and Temperature: Sensitive to timing of rainfall and rainfall during harvest might lead to crop failure. Temperature required is around 20-30 degree c., while rainfall is about 75-100cm.
  • Soil: Black soil ideally suited for cotton cultivation as it is rich in lime.cotton is vulnerable to pest attack.
  • Humidity: Cotton cultivation requires more than 200 frost free days. Humidity during harvest is harmful.
  • Oilcake: The cotton seeds are crushed for oil and the oilcake is an important animal fodder and also used as farm manure.


What is the Present status of cotton in India?

  • India holds a 4% share of the U.S.$840 billion global textile and apparel market
  • India has been successful in developing backward links, with the aid of the Technical Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS), in the cotton and technical textiles industry.
  • However, India is yet to move into man-made fibres as factories still operate in a seasonal fashion.
  • Areas of cotton cultivation are Gujrat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Punjab, etc.

Do you know?

The latest archaeological discovery in Mehrgarh puts the dating of early cotton cultivation and the use of cotton to 5000 BCE. The Indus Valley civilization started cultivating cotton by 3000 BCE. Cotton was mentioned in Hindu hymns in 1500 BCE.

IndiaWhat are the voluntary sustainable standards (VSS) in cotton?

  • Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS):  Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), which encapsulate certification schemes, labelling programmes, and private standards. The major VSS that are dominant in the sustainable cotton value chain today include Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Organic Cotton, Fair trade Cotton, and Cotton Made in Africa.
  • To achieve sustainable Goal: The global textile supply chain is undergoing a paradigm shift; it is pursuing environmental and social upgradation to meet the sustainability requirements imposed by global textile and home furnishing retailers, so as to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change on cotton farmers and cotton cultivation.

What are the benefits of VSS for India?

  • Enhance position in global cotton supply: Adapting to VSS is clearly beneficial for India. On the one hand, it will help it remain globally competitive in the cotton supply chain and strengthen its position in the export market, while on the other, it will help meet India’s SDG commitments.
  • Takes India a step closer towards sustainable farming: India has made considerable progress in its transition towards a more sustainable cotton farming ecosystem. The total cotton area under VSS has reached 1.5 million hectares, contributing to 24 percent of the global VSS cotton area.
  • Increases organic production of cotton: With approximately 0.2 million hectares of area for production, it is the largest producer of organic cotton, accounting for 50 percent of global organic cotton production, and the second-largest producer of ‘Better Cotton’, accounting for 16.5 percent of total Better Cotton production covering an area of 1.5 million hectares.
  • Higher yeild: According to the BCI’s 2020 Impact Report for India, Better Cotton farmers have 9 percent higher yields and 18 percent higher profit than conventional farmers.
  • Eco friendly production:The Thinkstep report 2018 on the Life Cycle Assessment of VSS Cotton conducted in Madhya Pradesh revealed a reduction of 50 percent in climate change impact, 59 percent in blue water consumption, 84 percent in ecotoxicity, and 100 percent eutrophication in organic over conventional cotton.
  • To achieve SDG Targets: The VSS cotton growth story in India has already demonstrated its contribution towards the achievement of SDG targets for Zero Hunger (Goal 2), Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12), Life on Land (Goal 15), and Climate Action (Goal 16).
  • NITI Aayog’s Assessment: VSS cotton delivers real, measurable outcomes according to priority indicators as outlined by NITI Aayog which maps India’s SDG goals. These indicators include changes in the extent of water bodies, improving groundwater withdrawal against availability, and rationalising nitrogen fertiliser.


  • India must scale up the VSS while aligning it with its SDG commitments since VSS in cotton ensures a better production system, sourcing methods, and consumption patterns while also influencing the lives of hundreds of millions.

Mains Question

Q. What are the Voluntary Sustainable Standards (VSS)? Cotton production can be boosted in India using VSS method. Elaborate.

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