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Cotton production faces sustainability challenges


Cotton is the most used natural fiber. Cotton originates from the Arabic word quton, meaning fancy fabric. This is a staple fiber made up of short fibers twisted together to form yarn.Cotton is present in our everyday life, from clothes to coffee strainers, and more recently in masks to control the spread of Covid.

Currently, approximately half of all textiles require cotton fibers.The earliest production of cotton was around 5000 BC in India, and today around 25 million tons of cotton are produced each year.

Currently, five countries make up around 75 per cent of global cotton production, with China being the world’s biggest producer. The country is responsible for over 23 per cent of global production, with approximately 89 million cotton farmers and part-time workers.

Cotton’s importance cannot be understated, as it is the primary input for the Chinese textile industry along with many other nations’ textile industries.The United States is the leading global exporter of cotton, exporting three-fourths of its crop with China as the top buyer.

Despite its importance for the global economy, cotton production faces significant sustainability challenges. Cotton is one of the largest users of water among all agricultural commodities, and production often involves applying pesticides that threaten soil and water quality.


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