Over the next decade to 2030, India (25%), China (22%), the United States (15%) and Brazil (10%) in that order will continue to dominate production cotton world which is expected to reach 28.4 million tonnes (mt), while five Asian countries – China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam – will account for 75 percent of total mill consumption (28 , 3 mt) over the period, according to the latest OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook report. 2021-2030 planned.
World cotton exports are expected to increase by a quarter to exceed the 11-tonne mark by the end of this decade, when sub-Saharan Africa with a 15 percent share is expected to rank third after the United States. United and Brazil, ahead of India to fourth position. Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, Turkey and Indonesia will continue to be the main importers of the fiber.
India will continue to be the world’s largest cotton producer, with increased production relying mainly on relatively higher yields, while area expansion is expected to be limited in line with recent trends.
By 2030, India’s cotton production is expected to reach 7.2 t (about 43 million bales of 170 kg each) compared to a current production of 6 t equivalent to about 36 million bales. India will contribute up to 40 percent of the global increase in cotton production over the forecast period.
However, production will continue to face challenges such as land constraints, water scarcity, climate change and the susceptibility of crops to attacks from pests and diseases. No wonder the productivity of raw cotton has stagnated in recent years and yields are among the lowest. The OECD-FAO Outlook assumes yield growth that reflects the increased use of smart mechanization, variety development and pest management practices.
In India, the pink bollworm appears to have become resistant to Bt cotton (a genetically modified variety of cottonseed), resulting in significant crop losses. Better genetics and adoption of better agronomic practices for sustainable cotton production could bring improvements over the next decade, but growing yields could remain a challenge, the report notes.
Growing demand from the domestic garment industry continues to drive investment in the sector. Support for the sector in India is expected to result in continued growth in the use of cotton mills.
However, the industry faces several challenges, including technological obsolescence, high input costs and limited access to credit. To address these issues, the government has put in place several subsidy programs and is currently developing a new textile policy for the overall development of the sector, the report adds.
Competition from synthetics
As a natural fiber, a big challenge for cotton could come from synthetic fibers such as polyester. As a critical raw material, cotton will have to establish itself as a competitive product for industrial consumption. This can happen with the introduction of technological interventions for improved efficiency along the entire value chain, starting with higher productivity through to treatment efficiency.
Indian policymakers need to be aware of the challenges and strive to ensure higher production through better yields and generate a real export surplus to supply the global market. The principles of sustainability must be advanced.
The author is a political commentator and a global agro-industry specialist. Opinions are personal.