Free Trade Zones

Insufficient cotton production despite a huge market

Cotton production in Bangladesh has been low as farmers prefer other cash crops to white fiber, completely missing out on at least a $3 billion domestic market.

The country only managed to produce 1.77 lakh bales of cotton last year, which was insufficient to meet the demand of a single mill.

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This represents almost 1% of the total annual consumption of the main textile raw material of 9 million bales. About 480 pounds, or 218 kilograms, makes a ball.

This has made Bangladesh one of the biggest importers of cotton as it needs to supply the local garment industry, the second largest in the world.

Spinners, millers and other users have to spend more than 3 billion dollars a year to buy cotton in India, the United States, African countries, Australia, Brazil, Pakistan and Central Asian countries .

Currently, cotton is grown on 45,000 hectares of land in about 40 districts.

The production has increased by 10,000 bales per year in the past five years, but the quantity has not touched 2 lakh bales.

Md Akhteruzzaman, executive director of the Cotton Development Board (CDB), attributes the scarcity of arable land, focus on food production and falling cotton prices to farmers’ lack of interest in growing the textile raw material. .

Parvez Anwar, Head of Department of Agronomy, Bangladesh Agricultural University, said that many other crops are grown during the cotton growing period.

Farmers also lack the confidence to grow them abundantly because they don’t have ready markets and better prices, he said.

However, cotton prices have been better over the past two years, both in global and local markets, and the higher rate is expected to continue in the near future as demand increases.

In Bangladesh, good quality cotton sells for Tk 3,600 per maund compared to Tk 2,200 to 2,400 two years ago.

Globally, cotton was sold between $1.26 and $1.27 per pound on Saturday, or between 81.35 and 81.58 US cents on February 5 last year, thanks to the faster recovery of the global supply chain after the coronavirus pandemic.

“Thus, it is expected that farmers will increase the cotton production area,” Akhteruzzaman said.

The CBD expects to boost cotton production to 2 lakh bales by 2022 and 3 lakh bales over the next five years, as part of its plans to grow the crop on one lakh hectares by 2030 and cater to 10-15% of the local population. request.

Currently, the CBD is implementing three major initiatives to boost cotton production and improve quality.

The council is running the extended cotton production project involving Tk 150 crore, a capacity building project involving Tk 63 crore and a donor supported project to improve raw material quality involving Tk 8 crore.

The state-run organization has partnered with a UK-based international clothing brand to build the capacity of 15,000 farmers in a project. CDB mainly provides technical support.

In addition, there are two other projects under the CBD aimed at alleviating poverty through the cultivation of cotton in hilly areas such as Bandarban and providing soft loans to farmers.

A minimum support price (MSP) can be a good tool to motivate farmers to grow more cotton, Akhteruzzaman said.

Khorshed Alam, managing director of Little Group, a cotton importer and consumer, explains that although the quality of the local variety of cotton is better than in other countries, the volume is low and users cannot rely on the national production.

Monsoor Ahmed, managing director of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, a platform for spinners and millers, also said farmers need to benefit from the MSP in order to speed up cotton production.

The demand for cotton is growing rapidly as Bangladesh is a major hub for the manufacture of cotton-based garments, he said.

In 2022, Bangladesh will import over 9 million bales of cotton, up from 8.5 million last year, driven by nearly 30% growth in garment exports, in line with global supply chain recovery .