Cotton harvesting in the US is over 200 times as fast as it in countries like India

Geography : India | United States |


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A study revealed that in the US, cotton harvesting took 2.5 hours per hectare vs 1408 hours (cotton association of India estimates this to be 465 hours/ha) and 2458 hours for India and China respectively... (Source: Study by Cotton Incorporated, 2015).

Almost unbelievable - 2.5 hours vs. 1400/2400 hours. But it will become more believable once we factor in the automation/mechanization of harvesting.

Even if we take the lower estimate provided by the Cotton Association of India, mechanized harvesting in the US is almost 200 times faster as manual cotton picking in India. 

Manual cotton picking, while slow and perhaps inefficient, provides employment to many poor people, and perhaps has a lower carbon footprint as no fossil fuels are used which is the case for mechanized cotton harvesting.

So, what should developing countries such as India or underdeveloped cotton-growing countries do? Fully automate harvesting, persist with predominantly manual harvesting, or employ a judicious mix of both?