About two thirds of the global cotton production of currently around 27 million tons is still picked by hand today. Among the major producing countries, the cotton harvest by hand is predominant in China, India and Pakistan, but also on the African continent.
One person can harvest about 25-30 kilograms of seed cotton, which results in about 13 to 15 kilos of fiber after ginning – ie the removal of the seeds.In India alone, around 50 million people are employed in the cotton industry, including up 7.7 million smallholders. It is estimated that cotton and its processing provide a livelihood to around 200 million people worldwide.
Image: Cotton harvest in Tanzania, courtesy of Ernst Grimmelt, Velener Textil