India expected to be the world’s largest cotton producer by 2022
In its agricultural outlook report for 2013-2022, the OECD expects a 17% drop in China’s production of cotton. With a predicted increase of 25%, India could steal first place from China under stable market prices.
Over the next decade, global cotton consumption is expected to grow 1.9%. The last peak of 26.7 million tonnes attained in 2007 is not likely to be surpassed before 2022. As for the expected minor increase, 70% should come from higher consumption in India. Production is expected to grow at a slightly slower pace than consumption. The agricultural areas for cotton cultivation should increase over the decade but never attain the heights of 2004 and 2011. And despite the increase in yields, the global average yield growth slowed due to a shift of cultivation to low-yielding countries.
As for world trade, the OECD expects a decline of 3.2% in exports by 2022. The United States accounts for one-third of exports and should be able to maintain its number one position, while the least developed Sub-Saharan African countries are expected gradually to take second place currently held by India. To meet its own demand, India will have to rely on its domestic supply more than ever. China, the world’s largest import market with a 41% share of trade, will gradually give up ground, while Bangladesh and Vietnam will each double their share of world trade.
Currently global cotton stocks rose for the third year, largely due to the Chinese official reserves alone. To understand the current cotton price, such facts must be be viewed in tandem with the recovery in demand in 2012, following a two-year collapse. If prices are far from the crisis reached a few seasons past, they still remain higher than the pre-crisis level.
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