India will be announcing the second phase of the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme (TAP) for Africa, Union textiles minister Smriti Irani said at the opening session of World Cotton Day in Geneva today. India remains committed to building on its longstanding development partnership with Africa, especially in the field of cotton, she added.
In the five-year-long second phase, TAP 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 TAP for cotton in six African countries, namely – Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda –from 2012 to 2018.
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, Irani said.
“As one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of cotton, India supports the World Cotton Day as an opportunity to recognize 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,” the minister said.
She 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.
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 eight 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.”