Orissa handloom weavers demand ban on cotton exports

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BHUBANESWAR - Expressing concern over the increasing prices of cotton, a leading weavers’ cooperative in Orissa Wednesday demanded a ban on cotton’s export and other measures to save the handloom industry.

Handloom is the largest cottage industry in the state, providing employment and sustenance to at least four percent of Orissa’s 30 million-plus population.

“Cotton yarn prices, which were at around Rs.185 a kg in August last year, have increased to an all-time high of over Rs.240 a kg,” Sambit Acharya, president of Sambalpuri Bastralaya Handloom Co-Operative Society Ltd, told IANS.

Sambalpuri Bastralaya has its headquarters at Bargarh town in the Bargarh district, some 380 km from here. It has more than 16,000 members. Its weavers use a tie-and-dye method to colour their fabrics.

“The price of cotton has risen alarmingly during the past few months. It was at around Rs.23,000 a candy (one candy is 3.56 quintals of lint cotton) two years ago, which increased to Rs.47,000 a few months ago,” he said.

Similarly, the prices of apparel products have also gone up by 38 percent to even 90 percent. As a result, the state’s handloom sector is in deep trouble, Acharya said.

“Yarn prices are going up. Further, the central government has stopped the 10 percent rebate on sale (128 days per annum) with effect from 2009-10 financial year. As a result, handloom making has become unviable and its survival is under threat,” he said.

“We cannot increase the price of our product because nobody will buy it,” he said.

The central government has allowed the export of 55 lakh bales (one bale is 170 kg) of cotton from Nov 1, mostly headed to China, despite a scarcity in the local market, he said.

“We have written to the state and central governments to impose a complete ban on cotton export. We also want them to take measures to reduce the price of cotton and cotton yarns,” he said.

“The government claims it allowed export so that cotton farmers get higher price. But it took the decision without taking into account the handloom and power loom sectors,” he said.

Unless the government comes out with measures to stop cotton yarn and cotton exports, cotton and cotton yarn prices will not come down in the domestic market, he said.

Filed under: Economy

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