Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA
India expected to produce about 37.5 million bales (170 Kgs each) amidst the pink bollworm infestation situation in major cotton growing regions. Global cotton and textile sectors are watching closely the Indian crop production situation, as the major news from that region has been on pink bollworm infestation in Maharashtra and Telangana regions.
Recently, Mumbai-based Cotton Association of India (CAI), which represents the entire cotton sector in India with about 450 members has released the cotton production estimate for the current cotton season (October 2017-September 2018). According to the latest figures, the production estimate is maintained same as the last estimate of 37.5 million bales (each bale weighing 170 Kgs). This estimate fairly agrees with India’s Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) estimate of 37.7 million bales, released in December.
While major cotton regions in India have had bollworm infestation, the increase in cotton acreage has off-set the huge loss in yield, which has enabled to maintain the estimate at 37.5 million bales, stated an agricultural expert from Mumbai, India. The arrivals during October-December 2017 has been about 14.7 million bales as against 10.8 million bales during October-December 2016.
According to CAB, cotton acreage in India this year is about 12.235 million hectares which is higher than 2016-17 acreage of 10.845 million hectares. Earlier, before the pink bollworm infestation issue surfaced, there was an expectation in the cotton sector that the production this season may reach about 39 million bales, which of course is not happening predominantly due to pest infestation.
With the Rabi crop sowing completed, planning should begin for the Kharif season planting in June, where cotton is a major crop. There seems to be serious discussion among farmers about cotton planting due to the recent pink bollworm issue. While stagnancy in pulses and oil seed prices, has encouraged farmers to plant cotton, given the recent pest issue, how well cotton will be favored for June planting will have to be seen.
Given the current scenario, proper promotion of scientific methods and educating the farmers, should be priority focus for stakeholders and government, stated a well-informed agriculture market expert from Mumbai. Framers are encouraged to burn the current standing crop in bollworm infested areas and avoid 4th and 5th picking, to avoid issues in the next season. Looks like next year’s cotton crop acreage may come down from this year’s area of about 12.2 million hectares.