Naturally coloured cotton cultivation in India
India is no stranger to growing naturally colourful cotton and in the coming months, it is expected that this variety would be grown commercially in the country. This has been possible after three decades of research by ICAR. Take a look at the article below to know all about this variety of cotton.
Why in News?
Indian Council for Agricultural Research-All India coordinated a research project on cotton led by AH Prakash who informed that the last phase of agronomy trials would be over by 2021.
The final stage of the trials will be ending by April 2021 and a few seeds would be proposed for commercial release. This would be done by a committee chaired by the deputy director-general of crop science, ICAR.
Why is the commercial release of coloured cotton stalled?
The University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, and the ICAR-Central Institute for Cotton Research, Nagpur are conducting sustained research and have developed a few varieties of naturally-coloured cotton. However, the commercial release has been stalled because it is still believed that it may contaminate white cotton.
The current Government has been rooting for coloured cotton since 2017. This was when ICAR was conducting the field trials in the All India Coordinated Research Project on Cotton.
About coloured cotton
Cotton with naturally coloured lint, other than white, is referred to as coloured cotton. Naturally coloured and white linted cotton are found from time immemorial. It can also be noted that the coloured cotton is grown and has been in use since 2500 B.C.
The Old World Asiatic diploid cotton are presumed to originate earlier than New World allotetraploid cotton.
Coloured varieties were more popular in diploid cotton. These were cultivated in Asia, particularly India, China and Central Asian Republics of Soviet Union.
In various cultivated species, brown and green colours are most common.
A few genotypes in the germplasm collection of the USA and Russia have a coloured lint in pink, red, blue, green and also black colours.
Listed below are few colours in which cotton can be grown in India
- Among the coloured cotton, brown is the most common colour.
- The cotton can be grown in various shades of brown which ranges from light brown to intense mahogany red.
- Depending on the intensity of colour, it can be classified into light brown, khaki/camel colour, brown, dark brown/chocolate colour, dirty grey, tan and red.
- The green colour is less common than the brown shade. It occurs as light green and dark green.
How does the colour in cotton develop
The colour of the cotton is a genetically controlled character. The pigments accumulate in the lumen of lint before ball bursting. In G.hirsutum, pigmentation begins to appear in the developing lint 32 days after fertilization after which it takes six days for the colour to develop.
In the variety, G.arboreum, colour pigments are observed after 46-47 days of fertilization. After this, it takes 5-6 days for the colour development process to complete. However, the complete expression of lint colour takes place only when the boll bursts open and the lint is exposed to sunlight.
Commercial cotton growth process:
- All India Coordinated Research Project would be recommending on the coloured cotton cultivation. They would be informing the farmers on the niche areas, which would have a provision for separate ginning and processing.
- State governments would also be expected to manage the process after the seed has been commercially released.
- Each University would be tying up with various farmers or processing units for cultivation, weaving and manufacturing processes.
Advantages of the coloured cotton:
Cotton with artificial dyes has reported itching on the skin and even cancer. With naturally coloured cotton such risks to the human body can be avoided. After dyeing, the chemical residues of finishing affluents are thrown in rivers contaminating all the water and soil. This caused great environmental pollution, which will be avoided in case naturally coloured cotton is grown. The dyeing process adds on to the cost of production which would also be eased once the cotton is homegrown. The few benefits listed above are greater on saving the economy of the fabric as more than half of the population depends on the cotton in India.