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Friday, February 23, 2024

The 81st Plenary Meeting: Climate-smart
Innovations as Game Changers in Cotton Production

If there is a problem that needs the help of some game-changing solutions, it’s our damaged (and still deteriorating) global climate. That’s why the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) chose ‘Climate-smart Innovations as Game Changers in Cotton Production’ as the only session that was given a half-day discussion during its 81st Plenary Meeting, held 2-5 December in Mumbai.

There were three speakers in the first half of the session:

  1. It was opened by Alexandra Perschau, Head of Standards & Outreach at the Aid by Trade Foundation, who spoke about ‘Climate-smart Agronomy for Improved Soil Health and Biodiversity’. She emphasised the importance of engaging with small holder farmers more effectively, including the need to simplify cultivation technologies and techniques so they can understand and benefit from them going forward.
  2. The second speaker, Dr YG Prasad, Director, ICAR-CICR, focussed his comments on ‘Climatic-smart Cotton Production Technologies for Improved Yields’. He pointed out that climate resilience in cotton is extremely important due to the predominantly rain-fed nature of its cultivation and exposure to increasing climate risks.
  3. The third speaker was Dr Marc Giband, Cotton Correspondent at CIRAD, who delivered his presentation on ‘Climate-smart Plant Breeding of Cotton’. He said in the near future, we will need to adapt to lower water availability, higher temperatures, and increased CO2 concentrations (on the bright side, however, that would lead to increased photosynthesis).

Four more speakers took the stage after a short break:

  1. Dr Michael Bange, Commercial Research Manager at CSD in Australia, began part two of the session with a presentation entitled ‘Impact of Climate Change on Global Cotton’. He talked about the effects of environmental stress on yields — and crucially, that if we don’t measure that stress, we can’t manage it.
  2. The next speaker in the session was Mr Mahesh Ramakrishnan, Vice President, Cotton BU Sustainability, Olam Agri, who discussed ‘Implementing Climate Resilient Innovations in Cotton Farms’. He said that Africa’s farmers are focussing on the ICAC’s Open Earth Cone-pit Technology for large-scale production of biochar from cotton stalks to regenerate the health of the soil, which will contribute to more CO2 storing and could help sequester gigatons of CO2 every year.
  3. The topic of ‘Rewarding Carbon Credits for Climate Resilience of Small Scale Farms’ was addressed by Mr Ganesh Babu Krishnappa, Managing Director at Boomitra. Among the challenges that must be overcome, he said, are achieving transparency of information and the fact that measuring soil organic carbon is both expensive and time consuming.
  4. Finally, the session wrapped up with Mr Rajeev Baruah, Global Agronomic Manager at Primark, who discussed ‘Regenerative Agriculture, ZBNF, and Organic Cotton: Do They Combat Climate Change?’ The answer, he said, is yes — if we enhance carbon sequestration mechanisms and curtail the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.


The 81st Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) has the theme, ‘Cotton Value Chain: Local Innovations for Global Prosperity’. Scheduled for 2-5 December at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai, the conference will be followed by a Technical Tour of India’s cotton and textile industries from 6-8 December.

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