Devising Indo-African cotton survival plan

Rakesh Manchanda

Cotton business is undergoing hard times in Africa and India.
Cotton culture that cloths humanity and delivers cholesterol free cotton oil in kitchens is forced by the global system reeling under recession to pit a farmer against the worker.

Let us first understand how one cotton seed sacrifices its existence to generate more fruits and more wealth.

From Seed to the Fruit Distribution:
Transformation of life from seed to fruit remains the human and team responsibility. To convert a cotton seed to fruits a team work and a legislative process is needed. To distribute hundreds of fruits produced by a single seed again a law is required. Collective wisdom of the team work shaped with a correct environment, adequate rainfall, proper sunshine, organic fertiliser, correct rules of team work, appropriate fruit or wealth distribution, sharing with team coordination during monitoring of transformation helps to sustain justice. The whole cycle punctuated by “Give& Take Life Relationship” is controlled by nature popularly named as God and monitored by farmers. Beneficiary remains the 99 % people and Agriculture life style with `unequal` distribution of fruits.

Farmers -Workers division towards rewards and punishment.
Economic policy decisions as regulatory measures have recently rocked the Zambia economy as a land locked African Nation. First is the rise in domestic and industrial workers wages that is almost double then the last year. Second is the buying cost of the cotton from Farmers per kilo is half the cost last year. The floor cost of cotton buying falls down from 3200 Kwacha to 1600 Kwacha this year. Ratio of farmers and industrial workers in any developing nation is roughly assumed as 7:1. Cotton Business follows global market rules. Cotton economy is not a zero sum game. At times you rob Peter to pay to Pal. When an industrialist or an investor or any government cannot dare to reduce the wage of say a driver in line with cost of the falling global cotton price this year to half then someone has to suffer. When the powerful ginners lobby in Zambia complain of falling cotton yarn prices the end loser is the farmer. How strongly the rise in the wage of an industrial workers help Zambian trickle down economy needs to be seen. The system of global village is pitting a farmer against the worker. Reduction of cotton buying from 3200 Kwacha(32 cents) per kilo to almost half this year indicates how the American driven recession is killing the hard working 99%. Last year when I was in Zimbabwe the cotton buying from farmers went as high as 50-80 cents per kilo. The international sale price of ginned cotton lint to day in Europe spinning mills is 72 cents instead of 150 cents per pound last year in August.

Distribution of fruit and wealth generated is a tricky jugglery practised by policy makers. This invites conflicts worldwide both in agricultural and industrial sites. Farmers are never happy to burn their own cotton produce. But this happened recently in Zambia with reports of resistance and conflict with police. There is nothing wrong in collective hard work, national spirit and fair intentions of 99% to grow. Fault lies with the deliberate design and a disconnect between the wheel of production and the distribution controlled by that 1%. Real sale with real jobs and its increase is the only way to increase real production in the sick factories during ongoing recession.

Technically farmers are entrepreneurs with no right to fix price for their produce. Let us understand the journey of Potatoes in Indian villages instead of cotton in Africa. If the selling of Potatoes is Rupees 1 per is the market price controlled by Governments in India and Africa and a farmer has no power to increase or decrease his selling price of Potatoe. When Potatoes are sold from villages and sacks travel to feeder market the price tops up more then ten times. When an industrialist is allowed to make Potaoe chips we see the price of less then 50 gm is approx Rs.10/-.

So here the selective policy acts to give a step motherly treatment and the price of Potatoe chips is as high as thousand times. Some of such unregulated market policy have proved to be dangerous for the very survival of agriculture.

Cotton culture and hope in World Trade Organization :
World Trade Organisation today has more then 20 negotiating groups as participating countries. As a traditional global platform of barters WTO positions `give and take` as business interest. This is not a Zero sum game. It is loaded in favour of the participating country`s business lobbies. Stronger the participating country stronger shall be the rewards in shape of taxes, tariffs, import , export customs and investors profit. America continues to subsidise as high as 58% to American cotton growers and farmers. Result the global prices become unreal cotton prices and are forced to fall down? This is not motivating to all engaged in cotton business except Americans and Chinese. Battlelines are drawn and get polished each day in WTO.

The future of cotton oil and cotton garments today finds profit shrinking times in Africa and in India.No survival noises and no clear rescue plans in favour of India,Zambia Mali and Zimbabwe are seen.

Cotton culture in India and Africa :
Cotton culture in India and Africa is a deep rooted and is an old heritage.Congress Government must revisit its glorious past and see how the British Colonial Government in the pre independent India was challenged. A parallel `Charkha`-a small scale spinning alternative- were promoted by Mahatma Gandhi. The Manchester Spinning mills in England faced a fierce competition by Freedom movement of those times. Cotton as `white gold` was the `Fiber of Freedom` in many colonized countries including India. The once pride of India, the Indian Textile industry is today in a shameful isolated stage. Both Indian government and opposition (BJP) are ignoring the much required hospitalization and resuscitation to textile industry. The fact remains that governments are in denial mode as they cannot reverse their past commitments to save US lead global textile industry with advantage in Asia only to China. American government continues to unilaterally design a direct and indirect subsidy to its cotton growers. The subsidy is as high as 58%.This builds an uneven playing field in the global village for other countries. Instead of surrendering to the American and Chinese pressure India-Africa need to boldly defend its cotton and textile interests.Why America Government wants to remove its dirty unemployment mess now at the cost of Africa-India economy ?

Choice less solution : The manufactures, producers and spinning mill owners are today forced to enter the vicious credit market with profits slashing down and the risk mounting high. The situation in West Africa today is so bad that even the `used cloth market` from Europe and US of say 10 containers shipped per month has no buyers in West Africa.Credit risk in presence of a muscular recovery and sales team and supporting account players in addition appears the only way out. New markets need to be searched. Old markets are flooded with credit dumped products. This is the time to motivate real production in the factory which is the biggest future asset. More commitments to the real quality production can definitely increase more indirect work, better opportunity, more jobs, increase in real consumers and sales to newer markets. Bad work habits `identification` in Business and industry is catching up fast. Recession is throwing open newer wounds. Bleeding industry in-house crossfire continues. Successful promoters and top decision makers of the past boom era need to change fast, reboot their expensive costly habits and contribute.

The wheel of running production and running consumption in India and in Africa silently demands better and more human justified global controls. India need to learn from a smaller landlocked countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mali where absence of ports adds value to the end product cost.

Means-ends and seed-fruit cycle builds a metaphor for a system that produces and generates jobs. If one fruit is put in the market to produce more fake fruits without the natural cycle of seed germination the gamble in the civilised world is the share bazaar. Here the cheer leaders and investors wish to attract investments on the plea that the money in the shape of fruits shall multiply into more fruits. The money as share fails to generate jobs and at times when the market balloon collapses to match the actual growth the `bad fruit` concept as an excuse takes birth. Increase in wages of workers and increase in cost of cotton buying can help put more money in more pockets to buy cotton cloths, cotton, oil animal cake and soap which governments-business lobby forgets again and again.

Unlike a fashionable `stand still` Tread Mill Gym exercise, cotton rescue plan needs a real run for a cotton campaign.There is a long overdue need to have a more equal global participatory model from remote villages to the World markets.