Bangladesh, the largest cotton importer of the world, up till 2017, could meet 1% of its cotton demand despite being an agriculture based country. Currently, Bangladesh imports USD 3 billion worth of cotton a year. Stable and controlled cotton supply is an essential need for the burgeoning RMG sector, which contributes 82% of the country’s export. In order to achieve Bangladesh’s goal of USD 50 billion apparel export within 2021, sustainable and strong backward linkage of Primary Textile (spinning) Sector (PTS) is a must.
The draft of the “Textile Law 2018” received final approval by the cabinet on February 26, 2018. The law covers maintaining quality in textile products produced by domestic textile industries. An organization headed by a Director General as registrar will be formed for examining quality and standards of various elements like paints and chemicals used in textile products. All textile manufacturers will have to register under this administrative organization. 
Acknowledging the importance of cotton as a cash crop, Bangladesh Cotton Development Board (CDB) is trying to improve the trend of cotton cultivation in Bangladesh. To encourage more farmers to produce the fiber, CDB has already started providing funds to cotton farmers—BDT 15,000 per head from a fund of BDT 5 crore. The board is also looking for new cotton farming lands in hilly and char areas in different districts along with the existing areas in Jashore, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Rajshahi, Gazipur and Mymensingh.
The board is also conducting research to use hybrid seeds for cotton cultivation to increase its production units. Currently, yield per hectare stands at 1.5 tonnes and it would go up to 3-3.5 tonnes with the use of hybrid seeds. There are some private seed companies which are producing and selling high- yield hybrid variety of cotton seeds considering the demand of farmers and spinners in growing cotton. Bangladesh primarily produces American Upland
(Gossypium hirsutum) and Tree (Gossypium arboreum) cotton that represent 95 and five percent of total production, respectively.
Last fiscal year, the country produced 1.65 lakh bales of cotton, which can meet less than 3 percent of the annual demand of 10 million bales (1 bale equals to 282 kilograms) and imported 7.1 million bales of cotton, meeting 97 percent of the demand of the country’s more than 440 spinning mills. Almost 50 percent of the imports come from India, which came down from 60 percent through import diversification. Besides India, Bangladesh is importing cotton from Africa, CIS countries, USA, Latin American countries and Australia.
Author: Dipa Sultana is a final year undergraduate student at North South University and a Junior Associate at LightCastle Partners. With dual majors in Finance and Marketing, she aims to pursue higher degrees in Data Analytics.
- GAIN Report: Cotton and Products in Bangladesh 2018