The agro-based industry includes indutries related to textiles, sugar, paper and vegetable oil. These industries use agricultural products as their raw materials. Textile industry is the largest industry in the organized sector.
1. Cotton textiles
2. woollen textiles
3. Silk textiles
4. Synthetic fibres
5. Jute textile industries
It occupies unique position in the Indian economy, because it contributes significantly to industrial production (14 per cent), employment generation (35 million persons directly – the second largest after agriculture) and foreign exchange earnings (about 24.6 per cent). It contributes 4 per cent towards GDP. It is the only industry in the country, which is self-reliant and complete in the value chain i.e., from raw material to the highest value added products.
In ancient India, cotton textiles were produced with hand spinning and handloom weaving techniques. After the 18th century, power-looms came into use. Our traditional industries suffered a setback during the colonial period because they could not compete with the mill-made cloth from England. Today, there are nearly 1600 cotton and human made fibre textile mills in the country.
About 80 per cent of these are in the private sector and the rest in the public and cooperative sectors. Apart from these, there are several thousand small factories with four to ten looms. In the early years, the cotton textile industry was concentrated in the cotton growing belt of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Availability of raw cotton, market, transport including accessible port facilities, labour, moist climate, etc. contributed towards its localisation. This industry has close links with agriculture and provides a living to farmers, cotton boll pluckers and workers engaged in ginning, spinning, weaving, dyeing, designing, packaging, tailoring and sewing.
The industry by creating demands supports many other industries, such as, chemicals and dyes, mill stores, packaging materials and engineering works. While spinning continues to be centralised in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, weaving is highly decentralised to provide scope for incorporating traditional skills and designs of weaving in cotton, silk, zari, embroidery, etc.
India has world class production in spinning, but weaving supplies low quality of fabric as it cannot use much of the high quality yarn produced in the country. Weaving is done by handloom, power loom and in mills. The hand spun khadi provides large scale employment to weavers in their homes as a cottage industry.
India exports yarn to Japan. Other importers of cotton goods from India are U.S.A., U.K., Russia, France, East European countries, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and African countries.
India has the second largest installed capacity of spindles in the world, next to China, at around 34 million (2003-04). Since the mid-eighties, the spinning sector has received a lot of attention.
We have a large share in the world trade of cotton yarn, accounting for one fourth of the total trade. However, our trade in garments is only 4 per cent of the world’s total. Our spinning mills are competitive at the global level and capable of using all the fibres we produce. The weaving, knitting and processing units cannot use much of the high quality yarn that is produced in the country. There are some large and modern factories in these segments, but most of the production is in fragmented small units, which cater to the local market. This mismatch is a major drawback for the industry. As a result, many of our spinners export cotton yarn while apparel/garment manufactures have to import fabric.
India is the largest producer of raw jute and jute goods and stands at second place as an exporter after Bangladesh. There are about 70 jute mills in India. Most of these are located in West Bengal, mainly along the banks of the Hugli river, in a narrow belt (98 km long and 3 km wide). Factors responsible for their location in the Hugli basin are: proximity of the jute producing areas, inexpensive water transport, supported by a good network of railways, roadways and waterways to facilitate movement of raw material to the mills, abundant water for processing raw jute, cheap labour from West Bengal and adjoining states of Bihar, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. Kolkata as a large urban centre provides banking, insurance and port facilities for export of jute goods.
The jute industry supports 2.61 lakh workers directly and another 40 lakhs small and marginal farmers who are engaged in cultivation of jute and Mesta. Many more people are associated indirectly. Challenges faced by the industry include stiff competition in the international market from synthetic substitutes and from other competitors like Bangladesh, Brazil, Philippines, Egypt and Thailand. However, the internal demand has been on the increase due to the Government policy of mandatory use of jute packaging. To stimulate demand, the products need to be diversified. In 2005, National Jute Policy was formulated with the objective of increasing productivity, improving quality, ensuring good prices to the jute farmers and enhancing the yield per hectare. The main markets are U.S.A., Canada, Russia, United Arab Republic, U.K. and Australia. The growing global concern for environment friendly, biodegradable materials has once again opened the opportunity for jute products.
India stands second as a world producer of sugar but occupies the first place in the production of gur and khandsari. The raw material used in this industry is bulky, and in haulage its sucrose content reduces. There are over 460 sugar mills in the country spread over Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat along with Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. Sixty per cent mills are in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This industry is seasonal in nature so, it is ideally suited to the cooperative sector.
In recent years, there is a tendency for the mills to shift and concentrate in the southern and western states, especially in Maharashtra; this is because the cane produced here has higher sucrose content. The cooler climate also ensures a longer crushing season. Moreover, the cooperatives are more successful in these states. Major challenges include the seasonal nature of the industry, old and inefficient methods of production, transport delay in reaching cane to factories and the need to maximise the use of baggage.