The Cotton Advisory Board has estimated that Indian textile mills may import 1.2 million bales of natural fibre in the current season (October-September).
"The Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) has estimated cotton imports in 2011-12 season (ending September 30, 2012) at 1.2 million bales, including short staple cotton," Textile Minister Anand Sharma said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
In July 2012, prices of Indian cotton crossed world cotton prices, making imports of other varieties of the natural fibre more economical, he said.
Other reasons for India's rising natural fibre imports include availability of international credit finance at lower interest rates, savings in the carrying cost for textiles mills, higher yarn realisation and better quality cotton, the minister added.
Till date in the current season, 480,000 bales of natural fibre have been imported, Sharma said. In the 2010-11 year, the natural fibre imports stood at 5 lakh bales.
Asked if there is acute shortage of cotton in the country, Sharma said: "There is no acute shortage of cotton in the country. As per the estimates of the CAB closing stock is expected to be at 2.85 million bales (for 2011-12) which account for more than 30 days of inventory for textiles mills."
Also, he said, the government does not envisage any import curbs on cotton. Textiles mills are free to import cotton depending on commercial viability.
The CAB has pegged India's cotton production at 35.3 million bales this season against 339 lakh bales last year and its exports at around 12.7 million bales this year as compared to over 7.6 million bales in 2010-11.