India

India farm minister asks PM to lift cotton trade ban

A worker sorts cotton in Gujarat in December 2011
Image caption India is the world's second-largest producer and exporter of cotton, behind China

India's agriculture minister has written to the prime minister seeking to lift a ban on cotton exports announced on Monday.

Sharad Pawar said he had been kept in the dark about the decision.

India banned all exports of cotton amid a decline in production.

Disease has damaged crops in several states, cutting yields, and exports have been higher-than-expected because of strong demand from China, which takes about 80% of Indian production.

Indian textile makers have been concerned about shortages and high prices.

India is the world's second-largest producer and exporter of cotton.

'Falling prices'

"This is a very serious issue," Mr Pawar said in Delhi on Tuesday.

"I was kept in dark on the issue and have requested the prime minister for revocation of the ban as our production is higher this year and farmers are complaining of falling prices," he said.

India banned cotton exports on Monday until further notice to ensure supplies for domestic mills amid a jump in exports.

India has already exported 8.5m bales of 170kg (375 lbs) in the financial year ending on 31 March, reports say, up from a government estimate of 8.4m bales made in January.

Contracts had been signed for nearly 10m bales to be exported in the period, including those already shipped, Reuters news agency said.

International cotton prices have risen since the export ban was announced.

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