Quality forms the bedrock of any thriving industry, serving as the fundamental building block for success. This truth resonates deeply within India’s textile sector – a key driver of the country’s economy, generating employment opportunities and contributing substantially to exports. Despite its robust farm-to-fashion framework, there is now a greater emphasis on product quality to maintain India’s global reputation.

With this imperative in mind, India has taken an important step to enhance its global competitiveness by introducing quality control orders (QCO) for cotton bales. However, as with any significant transformation, this endeavour brings forth both challenges and opportunities for various players in the textile supply chain; farmers, the ginning community, importers, and exporters, all stand at the threshold of navigating these changes.

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Understanding requirements and their significance

Quality Control Order (QCO) for cotton bales is a set of regulations designed to oversee the quality of both domestically produced and imported cotton. The primary objective of QCO is to curb the influx of substandard and cheaper cotton products into the market, ensuring that customers receive superior-quality goods.

As per the key requirements under the QCO framework, cotton bales must adhere to specific quality standards before being introduced to the market. These standards encompass various aspects, including moisture content, trash levels, and overall quality. By enforcing these requirements, the authorities aim to safeguard the interests of consumers and uphold the industry’s integrity.

Quality control holds immense significance, especially in a country like India where maintaining consistent quality has been a challenge. The impact of sub-par quality reverberates beyond domestic markets. International buyers impose stringent standards, and meeting these benchmarks is crucial for sustaining exports. With emerging market dynamics such as the China-Plus-One strategy and Bangladesh’s anticipated shift in status being a least developed country (LDC), the need to elevate quality becomes even more pressing to secure India’s standing in the global textile trade.

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Challenges for farmers

Unpredictable Weather Patterns: The cotton farming process is heavily dependent on weather conditions. Unpredictable and shifting weather patterns can lead to fluctuating cotton yields and quality. Sudden changes in temperature, rainfall, or other environmental factors can negatively impact the quality of the cotton produced.

Preference for Other Crops: Many farmers opt to cultivate other crops like paddy due to factors such as guaranteed returns and perceived ease of cultivation. This preference diverts attention and resources away from cotton production, leading to a decline in overall cotton output.

While some quality labs exist, their limited accessibility leads to uncertainty. All these factors make it potentially difficult for farmers to adhere to rigorous QCO standards.

Solutions for farmers

Leveraging Technology: Elevating awareness and education about agricultural technology is imperative to cultivate a thriving farming community. By integrating technology, farmers can not only attain high-quality cotton yields but also streamline processes, conserve resources, and bolster their livelihoods. Empowering farmers with tech-savvy skills ensures both bountiful cotton production and the sustainable evolution of the agricultural landscape.

Financial Incentives: Providing financial incentives to farmers who adhere to QCO standards can motivate them to prioritise cotton cultivation. Subsidies, grants, or direct payments for producing high-quality cotton can encourage them to invest more in their cotton crops and adopt best practices.

  • Also Read: Global cotton production likely to decline next season
Challenges faced by the ginning Iindustry

The ginning industry, a pivotal link in the textile supply chain, plays a crucial role in processing raw cotton before it reaches the manufacturing stage. Ginning units are responsible for separating the cotton fibres from seeds, impurities, and non-fibre materials, ensuring that the cotton is clean and ready for further processing. However, the implementation of Quality Control Orders (QCO) for cotton bales presents several challenges and opportunities for this industry.

● Infrastructural Unpreparedness: Ginning facilities might lack the necessary infrastructure to meet QCO requirements, necessitating time and resources for upgrades.

● Uncertainty about Existing Stocks: Existing uncertified cotton stocks raise uncertainty, potentially disrupting the supply chain due to a lack of clarity on their fate.

● Standardisation of Trash and Moisture Limits: Standardising acceptable trash and moisture levels across cotton varieties complying with QCO is complex.

Solutions for the ginning industry

● Time and Infrastructure Support: Ginning facilities require time and financial support for upgrading machinery and processes to meet QCO standards.

● Technical Upgrades: Modernisation, such as automatic bale presses and better storage, enhances efficiency and consistency in cotton processing.

● Exemptions and Testing Infrastructure: Exemptions for existing uncertified stocks and accessible testing infrastructure can aid compliance.

● Financial Support and Awareness: Financial support and awareness campaigns can facilitate upgrades and educate stakeholders about QCO requirements.

Challenges for importers, suppliers

Both importers and suppliers also face a fair share of challenges. For instance, obtaining the required BIS certification can be expensive for importers. This financial burden of certification might lead to reluctance among importers, potentially causing textile manufacturers to lose orders or seek alternative suppliers.

Similarly, under the proposed QCO, suppliers will also have to obtain Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification and this presents logistical challenges, as officials need to travel to foreign manufacturing units to conduct inspections and audits. This in turn can lead to delays and additional expenses.

Solutions for importers, suppliers

However, each of these potential concerns can be solved by streamlining certain processes. For example, exploring cost-effective avenues for BIS certification can help reduce the financial burden on importers.

Similarly, for international suppliers, there can be a fast and seamless process put in place for them to acquire BIS certification. Developing a standardised procedure that minimises the need for physical inspections can facilitate smoother compliance for suppliers abroad.

Promising opportunities: Elevating India’s global textile influence

The impending implementation of Quality Control Orders (QCO) for cotton bales presents a transformative potential for India’s textile industry. By ensuring consistent high-quality cotton, QCO positions India as a global hub of reliability and excellence, attracting international buyers in search of unmatched value. This impact extends further, curbing the inflow of subpar cotton imports, safeguarding domestic markets, and fostering fair trade.

Moreover, QCO’s adherence to cotton imports promises to enhance the textile industry by infusing superior raw materials, cascading into the production of top-tier finished goods, thus propelling India’s textile exports. In essence, it paves the path to India’s ascendancy in the global textile arena, signifying an era marked by distinction, integrity, and greater international appeal.

In summary, QCO for cotton bales underscore India’s dedication to enhancing textile standards. While challenges across various sectors may persist, allowing time for necessary changes is essential. Collaborative stakeholder efforts can overcome these obstacles, ensuring successful implementation. Ultimately, by prioritising superior imports, India can boost buyer confidence and drive the industry toward achieving its ambitious USD 100 billion textile export target by 2030.


The QCO on cotton has the potential to greatly improve matters for the Indian textile industry – importing better products will help in exporting better products – increase trust from buyers, and meeting international QC requirements will improve order books. Ultimately the entire industry stands to gain and we will be better position to meet the textile export target of $1 bn by 2030. Some challenges do exist, however, with collaboration and cooperation between all industry stakeholders, we can arrive at solutions that will make the transition easier for the industry, along with demonstrating India’s seriousness and resolve to be a significant player in the global textile industry.

The author is Founder and CEO, The Yarn Bazaar

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