India's cotton production in 2015-16 has declined to 338 lakh bales (one bale of 170 kg each), down 12.4 percent from 386 lakh bales in the previous year, to hit a six-year low, according to last month's update of Cotton Advisory Board (CAB).
According to the Union agriculture ministry, area under cotton as on August 5 was 96.48 lakh hectare as against 105.68 lakh hectare a year ago. So the cotton production in the country is expected to hit a seven-year low in 2016-17 because of a reduction in the area under cultivation and pest attacks in top producer state Gujarat, even as domestic prices have started firming up after a poor season.
Cotton imports in 2015-16 may have been the highest in a decade, industry insiders said. Imports may see a new high this fiscal as the overall area where cotton has been sown has declined 8.7 percent.
NK Sharma, managing director at Gujarat State Co-operative Cotton Federation, said that the industry expects cotton production to further decline to 310-315 lakh bales in 2016-17.
Keshav Kranthi, director at Central Cotton Research Institute (CICR), Nagpur said that as compared to its normal area of about 28 lakh hectares, sowing was completed on 22.8 lakh hectare in Gujarat as on August 8. While, in Punjab the area is down by over 25 percent as compared to its normal area.
Higher production in Maharashtra, where weather conditions are looking favourable as of today, is not expected to fully compensate for the fall in Gujarat and Punjab. Pink bollworm in Gujarat and white fly in north India had led to severe crop damage last year.
This year, CICR scientists said that, white fly infestation is restricted to pockets such as Fazilka and Abohar in the north. But, the late sown cotton in Gujarat, which is 30 percent of the total cotton sown, is likely to get affected by pink bollworm on a large scale.
According to scientists and industry insiders, cotton production is expected to fall in key states such as Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana.
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