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Cotton to set many new records this season

Dilip Kumar Jha  |  Mumbai 

Increase in area due to rise in use of Bt seeds, production expected to be up 10%

India’s cotton industry is likely to set many new records this season (October-September). With an all-time-high acreage of 11 million hectares (ha), production in 2010-11 is poised to reach a new high of over 34.5 million bales (1 bale = 170 kg). Surprisingly, the industry has estimated productivity at 530 kg per ha, the second highest after the 554 kg per ha recorded in 2007-08.

Overall productivity, however, is estimated to rise over nine per cent on even distribution of rainfall throughout the country during the monsoon season and thereafter.

Agro-climatic conditions at the time of sowing were favourable in all cotton-growing states. As a result, the crop progress was satisfactory and there were no reports of any major pest attack or disease. Subsequent intermittent rain in the second week of September delayed crop arrivals by 15-20 days. From the second week of November, however, regular arrivals started picking up.

But, untimely rain and inclement weather in the second fortnight of November affected the pace of arrivals in central and southern belt. Some crop damage was also reported in the southern zone and Gujarat.

Based on the increase in acreage due to rise in use of Bt seeds, production is expected to increase 10 per cent from last year, says Dhiren N Sheth, president of the Cotton Association of India.

Two things that stood out in 2009-10 were a record acreage, making the season the first when area under the crop crossed the 10-million-ha mark, and the second-highest production level of 29.5 million bales, after a record production of 30.7 million bales in 2007-08.

Seasonal conditions were conducive. The monsoon was delayed, which caused some concern. However, large-scale plantings were reported after rains started. The area under Bt cotton went up from 73 per cent in 2008-09 to over 90 per cent in 2010-11.

Cotton balance sheet
Year Productivity
(million ha)
(million bales)
2000-01 278 8.58 14.0
2001-02 308 8.73 15.8
2002-03 302 7.67 13.6
2003-04 399 7.63 17.9
2004-05 470 8.79 24.3
2005-06 478 8.68 24.4
2006-07 520 9.14 28.0
2007-08 554 9.41 30.7
2008-09 524 9.41 29.0
2009-10 486 10.33 29.5
2010-11* 530 11.00 32.5
* Estimates; 1 bale = 170 kg, Source : Cotton Association of India

While it is true that cotton prices have been rising fast over the last year-and-a-half, the recent increase is mainly due to strong market fundamentals. This reflects primarily a combination of low global cotton stocks and demand by mills. The drop in Pakistan’s production estimates due to floods and a lower-than-expected production in China, restriction on cotton shipments from India and weakening of the dollar also aggravated the price increase, said Sheth.

Meanwhile, the world production is estimated to be 24.98 million tonnes in 2010-11, a rise of 14.7 per cent from 21.78 million tonnes in 2009-10. Most of the increase is expected to be in the US (51.3 per cent) and to some extent in India (13.3 per cent). Production is forecast to decline in China and Pakistan. Cotton use by mills in China, which is the leading cotton consumer accounting for about 40 per cent of the world consumption, is forecast to remain low due to non-availability of adequate material.

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First Published: Tue, January 04 2011. 00:21 IST