India’s Cotton Production is on Decline

Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA

Speaking to an audience of about 400 people on 7th March 2019 in Mumbai, India, Mr. Atul Ganatra, President of Mumbai-based Cotton Association of India (CAI), presented the latest estimate of this year’s (October 2018-September 2019) cotton production in India. India is estimated to produce 32.8 million bales (170 Kgs each) this year, which is 3.7 million bales less than last year’s crop of 36.5 million bales.

CAI is organizing a major international conference, “Global Opportunities and Challenges in Cotton,” March 6-8, 2019 in Mumbai that has attracted key people in the international cotton research and marketing. Representatives from Washington, DC-based ICAC, UK-based ICA, Texas Tech University, India based ICAR and many cotton trading and related agencies from around the globe are gathering in the important event that is organized at a location in a scenic setting, Nariman Point, Mumbai.

Speaking to this scribe on the sidelines of the event, Mr. Arun Sheksaria, a CAI Director stated that the timing of this conference is important with uncertain trade situation between the world’s leading exporter of cotton, United States and the largest consumer, China. The conference aims to discuss the trade war situation, global economic climate and more importantly enhance the brand image of Indian cotton.

Deficit rainfall during the months of September and October in key cotton growing states in India such as Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana is the main factor that has resulted in the decline in the crop, stated Atul Ganatra. Therefore, there will be no 4th and 5th pickings. Also, states like Maharashtra and Telangana have urged the farmers to uproot the plants by last December end to prevent pink bollworm infestations.

Serious discussions took place towards enhancing the yield in India, which is a major issue faced by Indian farmers, as the average yield in India falls below the global average yield/acre. Commenting on the price situation, Ganatra advised Indian mills to procure cotton now as spot price of 29 mm quality crop hoovers around Rs 42,000 per candy, warning that price may go up as cotton shortage is expected after June 2019. India may end up with a stock of about 1.7 million bales, which will be less that last year’s ending stock.