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Sourcing The World’s Next Best Cotton Fiber- From Vidarbha, India

When it’s deliver-or-die, supply chains become the lifeblood of a company. To that end, the fashion industry has embraced technology to navigate today’s hyper-complicated supply chain, with myriad solutions shaping the first, middle and last mile. Call it Sourcing 2.0.

Looking for the top quality cotton fiber? Vidarbha, India, could become the next go-to source.

With the biggest plantings and the most abundant yields in the Yavatmal district, Vidarbha will soon provide more bales of “white gold” for India’s export trade, and could also become a regional center of textile and garment manufacturing.

Venture capital and investments from textile units are flowing into the area as India’s ever-vigilant investors move to take advantage of Vidarbha’s many amenities.

Four deals have already been concluded with potential jobs, directly and indirectly related to textiles, for 2,500 people, according to Prakash Mishra, managing director of Target, an Indian textile industry consulting firm.

“We believe, as of today Vidarbha is best suited for investment in [the] textile sector,” said Mishra.

“A large number of investors from South India are also showing interest in shifting here because of peaceful environs, better connectivity with all parts of the country, including ports of Mumbai for sending export consignments,” he said.

Currently, about 70 percent of the cotton grown in the Vidarbha is shipped to factories and processing plants in distant parts of India. Annual output is 6.2 million tons.

But those circumstances could soon change. Vidarbha’s low-cost land, low-wage labor and high quality cotton are becoming widely known.

The ready availability of sufficient energy and water are additional attractions, and a reported 80 percent of the region’s arable land is still unused.

All the above is on the plus side of the equation.  On the negative side is slow government decision making.

“These agencies are so slow in decision-making that investors get frustrated and start looking for other alternatives,” said Pankaj Rathi, operations head of Target.

Another dark section of Vidarbha’s seemingly rosy prospects, according to local cotton farmers, is the increased cost of cultivation.

“The cultivation cost of cotton has tripled in the last two years, so the MSP [minimum support price] of cotton should be raised,” said Kishore Tiwari, president of a local farmers’ group.

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