The delayed monsoon, which was slated to prove disastrous for cotton produce in the state, might just prove to be a minor saving grace. Cotton production in Gujarat is now estimated to be 72 lakh bales (1 bale = 170 kg) in 2012-13 excluding the 23-25 lakh bales of cotton brought in from Maharashtra. Cotton traders from Ahmedabad project a 28% dip in the state’s cotton production this year from 100 lakh bales in 2011-12.
Including the cotton arrival from Maharashtra, cotton production in Gujarat is estimated to be around 95 lakh bales, 20% lower than the 120 lakh bales in the previous year. Nationally, cotton production is estimated to be down by 4% from 353 lakh bales in 2011-12 to 340 lakh bales in 2012-13.
The state and central governments are likely to release their cotton production estimates by the end of the month. However, Ahmedabad’s cotton traders have already made their cotton production estimation for 2012-13. According to their report, this year, the estimated cotton production in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra is higher than in the previous year.
Last year Andhra Pradesh grew 56 lakh bales of cotton, which is likely to rise to 75 lakh bales this year, while Maharashtra is likely to produce 1 lakh bales more in 2012-13, at an estimated 75 lakh bales. In the previous year, Gujarat’s share of the national cotton production was 34%, while this year, it is estimated to be 28%.
Owing to a delayed monsoon and the volatility in cotton prices in 2011-12, the sowing area under cotton in Gujarat has gone down by 18.50% this year. Of the total cultivated area of around 90 lakh hectares in the state, around 26% falls under cotton.
Meanwhile, the most worrying factor for farmers seems to be the fall in demand this year. Last year, the demand from mills as well as exporters was 382.31 lakh bales, which is estimated to be around 335 lakh bales this time around. Due to a reduced demand from China, cotton export from India is likely to fall from 127 lakh bales in 2011-12 to 75 lakh bales in 2012-13.
“This year, Saurashtra and Kutch will contribute less while Banaskantha, Sabarkantha and Bharuch districts are likely to see a rise in cotton production. We have estimated that cotton production in Saurashtra will be half of the previous year. Overall, cotton production in Gujarat is estimated to be down by at least 20% this year,” said city-based cotton trader and analyst, Arun Dalal.
Speaking about the fall in exports, Dalal said that globally, there is a tremendous rise in cotton production. “Simultaneously, China, which is one of the biggest cotton importers from India, is likely to focus more on yarn instead of cotton. So we have estimated that exports will remain around 75 lakh bales,” he added.
The final cotton production estimates are not expected before September 20, said NM Sharma, MD of Gujarat State Co-operative Cotton Federation Ltd (Gujcot).
“As of now, we have only received sowing figures, and we are still unaware on the yield of cotton per hectare. Looking at the sowing figures, we are not expecting cotton production to stand beyond 70 lakh bales in Gujarat this year,” Sharma informed.
Even 100 inches of rainfall in the Saurashtra and Kutch regions, will not take the cotton yield any higher, believes commodity analyst, Biren Vakil.
“Nationally, I am not expecting cotton production to be over 320 lakh bales. However, the real picture will be seen from the first week of October. While vegetation of the cotton plants is taking place in the fields, their flowering seems difficult this year,” he said.
However, Vakil noted that the demand for cotton in the domestic market is not likely to fall. “The demand from denim producers is robust this year. And they will continue to buy cotton in India,” he said.