circular economy, clothing, consumer, Fashion, textile industry

Omicron: Impact on Cotton & Textile Industry

Omicron variant featured image

The novel coronavirus has a new name and new features now. Omicron. It is a highly transmissible mutated version of the COVID-19 virus. It was first reported on 24 November 2021 in South Africa and is quickly becoming the dominant variant. It is now discovered in more than 57 countries.

After almost two years of restrictions, the world was beginning to relax. People around the world are getting vaccinated at a record pace. In India, more than 10 million people have been vaccinated. The economy had picked up and things were about to get better, when the new COVID 19 mutant, Omicron destroyed the hope.

Countries have renewed their restrictions and have imposed new rules for international travel. It is reported that countries with a high level of vaccine acceptance will be able to fight against the new variant. Countries like UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Belgium have detected the Omicron cases. These developed nations are the sole drivers for the textile and garment industry in India.

Omicron Effect on Cotton

Raw cotton prices have taken a nosedive recently with prices ranging from Rs. 7500 – Rs. 7700. Just a day prior to this event, a quintal of raw cotton was priced between Rs. 9400 – Rs. 9500. The chances of the re-emergence of covid 19 in the form of the Omicron variant have impacted badly on cotton growers. The slump in prices can be an opportunity to hoard more cotton, but if demand for cotton products decreases like last year, then it would become a burden to buyers.

cotton effected with bullworm

One thing to note here is that the Indian cotton production was already impacted by pink bollworm in the Punjab region. The cotton yield has thus decreased by 50% from last year from 19.96 lakh quintal to 9.20 lakh quintal. The affected cotton is more yellowish than pure white.

Omicron Effect on Textile Industry

The Textile Industry is heavily dependent on MSMEs. They play a major role in producing items for domestic and international markets. At a time when the global supply chain is already impacted with COVID-19 and lockdowns, Omicron is definitely a threat to the industry. The second wave in the month of April-June had already crippled many businesses and workers. With great efforts and help from the government, it had started to pick up. Now the Omicron is expected to disrupt the industry again.

Man weaving a machine

The founding member of IN Mehra Industries, Akhil Mehra told the economic times that “The main impact of the pandemic and now the new Omicron threat is that the ability to take easy loans is being wiped out from the market. There is nothing MSMEs can do to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain as they don’t have the financial capability to do that.”

If we are about to see more infections around the globe, surpassing the vaccine immunity, then the Omicron poses a great threat to the existing economic growth. The effects of lockdown and severe restrictions have a domino effect on the entire world. People would start to lose their job, GDP would decrease and demand would go down with it. Without demand, there won’t be any production-related activities. For the textile industry, this could be another hit.

As a member of society, we can encourage others to follow necessary precautions and avoid the spread of the Omicron variant. Do you think that there is a possibility for a third wave by February as WHO declared? Will we be able to fight properly this time?

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