Dr. Md. Gazi Golam Mortuza: Basic human needs are food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education. From the point of view of civilization, clothing is our first basic need. The basic and main ingredient of this textile industry is cotton. Cotton is one of the most common fabrics in our daily life. At one time the muslin of Bangladesh was world famous. The royal saree “muslin” made in this country was world famous. This muslin cotton was produced in this country. During the British rule, that cotton and muslin was lost in time. At present, the textile and garment sector is the main export and foreign exchange earning sector of Bangladesh.
The theme of World Cotton Day 2023 is ‘Making Cotton fair and sustainable for all: from farm to fashion”. The objective of global celebration of the day is to raise the visibility of the cotton sector and awareness of the critical role that it plats in economic development, international trade and poverty alleviation. Therefore, World Cotton Day 2023 is very important in terms of economic importance for Bangladesh. It is grown primarily as a fibre crop, but after the lint, the long twisted unicellular hairs are removed by ginning, the seed can be crushed to extract vegetable oil and protein rich animal food. More than 100 countries are involved in export and import of raw cotton. It provides food, animal feed, fibre and fuel. It sustained millions of people for their livelihood at farms, ginning factories, textile mills, edible oil and soap industry etc.
At first the WTO hosted the launch of World Cotton Day on 7 October 2019 following an initiative of the Cotton-4 countries. The event was organized by the WTO Secretariat in collaboration with the secretariats of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the ITC and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).
The United Nations General Assembly took decision on 30 August 2021, to officially recognize 7 October as World Cotton Day as submitted by the Cotton- 4 countries. The UN resolution (A/RES/75/318) proclaiming World Cotton Day acknowledges and recognizes its broader economic and social impact around the world. From that time, every year cotton producing and consuming countries observe World Cotton Day.
Cotton is widely grown and an important cash crop in the world as well as Bangladesh. Cotton is a soft and fluffy staple fiber. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Cotton is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of more than seventy five countries of the world, on 33-35 million hectors in each year, which represents 2.5% of the all cultivated land. More than 100 million families are directly involved in cotton production and produced 25-26 million ton of raw cotton, where average lint production is about 800 kg per hectare. It is grown primarily as a fibre crop, but after the lint, the long twisted unicellular hairs are removed by ginning, the seed can be crushed to extract vegetable oil and protein rich animal food. More than 100 countries are involved in export and import of raw cotton. It provides food, animal feed, fibre and fuel. It sustained millions of people for their livelihood at farms, ginning factories, textile mills, edible oil and soap industry etc.
About 80-85 lakh bales of fiber cotton are required annually for the 450 spinning mills of the textile sector in Bangladesh, the bulk of which is met by imports from abroad and this demand is increasing. About 25-30 thousand crore Taka have to be spent every year to import this amount of cotton. At present, only three percent of the total demand can be met in our country, the remaining 97 percent of cotton has to be imported from abroad. 5000 Garments and other sectors of ready-made garments directly involve about 50 lakh people. Considering these, World Cotton Day is very important for Bangladesh. In the financial year 2022-23, the textile sector earned 46.99 billion US dollars. Moreover, 84% of our foreign exchange earnings come from the garment sector. One ton of cotton provides employment to five people on an average for almost a year. Among agricultural crops, cotton is the only crop from which both food and clothing are obtained.
Through the world cotton day 2023, we want to reach every stakeholder who is the key audiences such as producers, mills or manufacturers, brands or retailers, consumers, academicians, researchers, media personnel, NGOs and Government authorities. Producers increase production of cotton and influence planting choice, mills/manufacturers increase consumption of cotton and production of cotton goods, brands/retailers increase preference of cotton and influence sourcing decision, last of all consumers increase demands and preference for cotton. Academicians educate on the benefits and the value of cotton to creates positive perceptions, researchers encourage funding for research to promote continuous improvement and innovation in the cotton industry. Media dispel negative myths about cotton, NGOs educate and develop positive partnerships, and last but not least Government authorities support cotton friendly production and trade policies.
From the ancient time, the finest cotton fabric- Moslin once produced in medieval Bengal was famous throughout the world. The cotton for producing Moslin was grown on high lands around Dhaka where most muslin handlooms were located.
The year 2009 was assigned the international year of natural fibres by the UN. Natural fibre industries employ millions of people all over the world, especially in the developing countries. As the major non-food commodity natural fibres and their products are processed in many small and large industries and consumers all over the world profit from the provided products.
Cotton is produced all over the world and one single tonne of cotton provides almost one year-round employment for five people on average. Cotton crop is perfectly suited for regions with an arid climate. Overall, cotton occupies just 2.1 percent of the world’s arable land and yet meets 27 percent need of the world’s textile sector. While cotton fibre is used in textiles and clothing apparel, food products like edible oil are obtained from cotton and its seed is used as animal feed.
Cotton is used by millions every single day across the world and the demand for cotton is expected to rise over the coming years. This hike in demand has increased the need for sustainable cotton. Ways to produce cotton while caring for the environment are at the forefront of conversations in the drive for sustainability. Conventional cotton production currently accounts for 18 percent of worldwide pesticide use and producers of cotton are being poisoned by heavy pesticide use. Sustainable cotton production is the solution to these issues. It reduces the use of hazardous chemicals, uses less water, and reduces poverty for cotton farmers.
Government and other policy makers should develop positive support to boost up the cotton production. World Cotton Day, 2023 is an opportunity to show the positive impact on cotton, which will continue to have in the future and convince the international community to join the celebration. It plays a vital role in the national economy of different countries since cotton benefits more than 100 million families in over 75 countries of the world. World Cotton Day serves as a key opportunity to spread knowledge and showcase cotton-related activities and products. So, World Cotton Day-2023 has an importance and significant role to all stakeholders for making cotton fair and sustainable.
Writer- Soil Nutrition and Water Management Specialist, Cotton Development Board,Dhaka