Cotton output could drop to 338 lakh bales in 2015-16

Anticipating further losses from cotton due to drought, cotton farmers switch to growing pulses.

The Dollar Business Bureau

Cotton holds a special place to Indians as its sentiments date back to the Indian independence movement when the handloom industry was systematically destroyed by the imperial rulers. Since then cotton which was hitherto imported during independence, became the mainstay for farmers, and India achieved self-sufficiency to becoming a raw cotton exporter. Within no time it became one of the largest producer of cotton in the world.

That was then. In the present scenario, India’s cotton output is likely to decline 12.4% to the lowest in 5 years for the current crop year Oct 2015 – September 2016, due to extensive crop damage in 5 major cotton producing states. On Wednesday, the Cotton Advisory Board (CAB), Ministry of Textiles released a statement saying that it has lowered the forecast of 352 lakh bales (1 bale = 170 kg) made in February, to 338 lakh bales. The estimated output for the current crop year is 338 lakh bales against 386 lakh bales the previous year.

Anticipating further losses from cotton due to drought, cotton farmers have decided to ditch cotton production and instead rely on growing money-making crops like pulses. With no relief in sight, from either the government or from the weather, the farmers have decided to opt for greener pastures.

Due to the earlier forecast of less production this year, cotton prices have shot through the roof. The benchmark variety Shankar-6, has increased by 35% in five months to Rs 12,710 a quintal which is the highest since 2013. The result being cotton garments would become more expensive.

Speaking to the media Kavita Gupta, Textiles Commissioner said, “as the international cotton prices are weak compared to the domestic rates, imports are expected to go up to 15 lakh bales during the year compared to 14.39 lakh bales in the previous year. Exports too are likely to grow as China which is low on stocks is likely to buy from India, to improve its inventory.”

The Dollar Business Bureau - Jul 14, 2016 12:00 IST