India’s Union Minister for Textiles, Dayanidhi Maran, has announced that he will seek a temporary ban on cotton export to ensure raw materials for domestic spinning mills. In a speech at the Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) in November, Maran acknowledged that the current 1.5 million ton global shortage of cotton has adversely affected cotton price and availability for Indian mills. SIMA officials estimate the domestic cotton need at 260 lakh bales (170 kilograms each) a year. The Cotton Advisory Board projects 295 lakh bales production this year, but bad weather in some of the cotton-growing areas may cut into the supply.
Maran also recently launched an international project to develop a stronger foreign and domestic demand for jute geotextiles, an effective and versatile material to stabilize soils during road-building and construction projects. The Indian government plans $78.5 billion for developing road infrastructure over five years, and Maran wants jute geotextiles to play a role in the development. The Indian jute industry, which employs workers in poverty-plagued areas, must standardize its products and meet international standards to compete in the market.