India needs to improve its cotton productivity drastically if it is to remain net cotton exporter, according to the Cotton Association of India (CAI). India’s cotton yield is not increasing during the last few years. As against the world average over 770 kg per hectare, productivity of cotton in India is low at only about 500 kg per hectare. “There is hardly any scope for further increase in the acreage under cotton in India and therefore, the only way to match the increasing consumption of cotton domestically is to increase productivity,” CAI President Atul Ganatra said at the 96th AGM held in Mumbai.

“If the situation is not improved quickly, the day is not far off when the consumption of cotton in India will surpass production, and India, which is today a net cotton exporter country, will become a net cotton importer country,” he added. Cotton is an important cash crop in India which provides employment to over 60 mn farmers and other connected with the production, processing and marketing of cotton in India.

India is playing an ever-important role in the world cotton market. It is the world leader in terms of the acreage under cotton. Over one-third of the total cotton acreage in the world is in India. India is the largest cotton producer, the second largest exporter next only to US and the second largest consumer next only to China. India also has a huge textile industry which is mainly cotton based and there is huge opportunity of value addition. India also has a large import market.

The world cotton production for 2018-19 season is projected at 26.12 mn tonne, which is lower by 0.63 mn tonne compared to the previous season, according to the latest estimate by the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC). The dip in output is due to a reduction in planting area, water availability and limited improvement in yields. The world cotton consumption estimated by ICAC at 26.8 mn tonne is likely to outpace production. Stock levels in China and elsewhere in the world are expected to decrease from 18.8 mn tonne to 18.2 mn tonne, due to the huge decrease in stocks held by China.