The Quality Assurance Provided by Machine Testing Adds Value for All Cotton Value Chain Members

Date Posted: 05 Nov, 2014

Thessaloniki, Greece, November 5, 2014 -- The value of cotton lint is largely determined by its quality characteristics, and as a result, any ambiguity about the accuracy of that quality erodes the price that the fiber can command in the marketplace.
That was the overarching theme of the three presenters in "Cotton Classification: A Vehicle for Standardization of Trading Practices," the Fifth Breakout Session at the International Cotton Advisory Committee's (ICAC) 73rd Plenary Meeting.

Moses Bujaga of Wakefield Inspection Services discussed Kenya and Mozambique's joint initiative to establish a national cotton classing system, with 100% sampling and high-volume instrument (HVI) testing of cotton. Once fully implemented, the additional quality assurance and transparency it offers would add value to the fiber and increase farmers' income. Given that the combined number of cotton farmers in the two countries exceeds 450,000, the potential for economic gains and a higher quality of life can't be overstated. But he emphasized that machine is not merely about improvement, it's about survival, adding that "100% instrument testing of cotton can possibly be delayed, but it is not avoidable."

James Knowlton of the USDA's Cotton Program agreed that instrument testing of cotton is "here to stay, because you will never maximize the value of cotton with hand-classing." He said that buyers are willing to pay a premium of several cents per pound in exchange for the quality assurance provided by machine testing. Equally important, he added, is what HVI testing can do to help make cotton more attractive relative to competing fibers. "Instrument results add utility value to the cotton, and that's critical in the competition against synthetic fibers," he said. "When textile mills select bales, they need consistency. Hand classing is not sufficient to provide that for today's high-speed, modern textile mills."

Dr. Mohammed Kasem Darawsheh of the Hellenic Agricultural Organization closed the session by emphasizing that the impact of 100% machine testing would be felt by all stakeholders involved in the cotton trade. "The viability of the entire cotton chain is dependent on the effectiveness of the fiber in its end use," he said. "Consequently, all sectors -- producers, ginners, distributors and tradesmen -- should provide the end user with a raw material that has known quality parameters."
The mission of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) is to assist governments in fostering a healthy world cotton economy. The role of the ICAC is to raise awareness, to provide information, and to serve as a catalyst for cooperative action on issues of international significance. For more information, please visit
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