India is about to experience an impending “cotton crisis” that has largely gone ignored, said Terry Townsend, a former executive director of the International Cotton Advisory Committee,
Despite predictions that India will produce about the same amount of cotton as it did the year before, a substantial shortfall in seed cotton supplies to procurement centers has raised questions.
Townsend cautions that this year’s crop may be as low as 4.3 million metric tons, which would be a significant decrease from last year’s crop.
The reason for this predicted shortage is still a bit of a mystery, but bad weather brought on by climate change has contributed.
Moreover, heavy rains in Gujarat and Maharashtra, and a pink bollworm infestation in the northern regions of Haryana and Punjab resulted in significant crop destruction.
The proliferation of poor-quality seeds with poor germination success and the volatile commodities markets also impacted production.
Due to these difficulties, more and more farmers are becoming disillusioned and switching to other crops, which has led to a decrease in the production of cotton.
China and India together account for half of the global cotton supply. However, during the previous ten years, its export volumes have been declining.
According to Townsend, India may start importing more cotton than it exports this year, with imports vastly outpacing exports in 2023–2024.
This transition poses challenges for the domestic textile industry, which traditionally relies on a steady supply of domestic cotton.
Townsend expresses concern over the apparent denial by major agencies in India regarding the looming disaster.
With global cotton production amounting to approximately 24 million metric tons, a deficit of 1 million metric tons has severe implications.
The Ministry of Textiles’ Committee on Cotton Production and Consumption estimates domestic mill consumption at 5 million metric tons this year, slightly lower than the previous year due to weak demand for yarn in India and global economic concerns.
With anticipated cotton production between 5.6-5.7 million metric tons, the committee believes that this will adequately meet domestic consumption, eliminating the need for imports.
However, if cotton production falls well below 5 million metric tons as anticipated by Townsend, time is running out to address the crisis.
The entire cotton supply chain in India is expected to be severely affected, prompting concerns for the broader industry.