New Delhi: Union Minister of Textiles, Smriti Zubin Irani, said that India remains committed to building on its longstanding development partnership with Africa, especially in the field of cotton. For this, Textiles Minister said that India will be announcing the launch of the second phase of the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme (TAP) for Africa at the Partners Conference in Geneva today. In the five year long second phase, the programme will be scaled up in size and coverage and will be introduced in five additional countries, namely Mali, Ghana, Togo, Zambia and Tanzania. The Cotton TAP programme will now cover 11 African countries including the C4 (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali). India implemented a Technical Assistance Programme (TAP) for cotton in 6 African countries, namely – Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda from 2012 to 2018.
Smriti Zubin Irani further said that India is also engaging meaningfully in providing assistance to strengthen both the agriculture and textile part of the cotton value chain in Africa through training and capacity-building of farmers, scientists, government officials and industry representatives and through the creation of cotton-related infrastructure.
As one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of cotton, India supports the World Cotton Day as an opportunity to recognise the significance of cotton as a global commodity, and, more importantly, as a source of livelihood for millions of small and marginal farmers in developing countries said Smriti Zubin Irani, at the opening session of World Cotton Day in Geneva today.
Smriti Zubin Irani said that it is fitting that Mahatma Gandhi has been chosen as the icon for the World Cotton Day and to mark the celebration of the first World Cotton Day, India will gift a replica of Mahatma Gandhi’s Charkha to the WTO. She also informed that a live demonstration of the Charkha has been arranged a by Pitta Ramulu, National Award winning weaver from India.
The Textiles Minister also informed that cotton farming and the domestic cotton textile industry continue to be important pillars of India’s economy. As a country of 8 million small and marginal cotton farmers, India is sensitive to the challenges faced by the cotton sector in developing countries and India has been a proponent for the elimination of asymmetries and imbalances in the WTO agreements that lead to a distortion of global cotton markets, the Minister added.
Smriti Zubin Irani expressed hope that the World Cotton Day will help showcase innovative initiatives in the cotton eco-system and channel more development assistance for cotton.