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India Cotton Outlook: Rising or Falling in the Year Ahead?

After a tough year for cotton production, India is expecting a rebound in 2023.

The world’s largest cotton producer has upped its estimates by 15 percent for the Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2023 year, according to Indian industry sources. 

India is expected to account for 23 percent of global production this season.

Cotton output is expected to grow to 34.4 million bales, with a greater investment in production area by farmers, as well as in terms of yield. One of the factors behind the higher expected cotton growth has been the soaring prices seen most of this year, which almost doubled within the first five months, from $725.20 per candy (1 candy = 356 kilograms) in January to $ 1,329.53 per candy by May.

The rising prices incentivized farmers to turn towards cotton once again, with a bigger push in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

“The yield is also expected to increase due to excellent weather conditions,” said Arjun Dave, deputy general manager, Cotton Corporation of India (CCI).

The additional cotton yield is expected to benefit local consumption, which is high in India, as well as cotton exports. According to CAI, the Cotton Association of India, domestic consumption is projected to reach 32 million bales—an addition of 2 million.

One of the effects of the 2021-22 shortfall in cotton has been lower stocks for the coming season, down to 3.18 million bales from the previous year’s 7.18 million bales.

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The news of the cotton estimates is being noted by spinning mills and textile majors suffering from shortages over the past year.

“The last year was a very tough season in India,” said Dhiren Sheth, director, Galiakotwala & Co, referring to the fact that the added yield will also help make end-products much more viable in India. The recently falling cotton prices in the country have also led to a 10 to 15 percent drop in yarn costs, leading to disconnects in the yarn and the textile industries. With the recovery of cotton prices, and the anticipated availability, India is expected to come back on a stronger footing in 2023.

The total cotton supply of 38.78 million bales for the coming year consists of the opening stock of 3.18 million bales and the estimated 34.4 million bales for the year as well as imports for the season estimated at 1.2 million bales.

Meanwhile, China is expected to step up production as well, projecting to be ahead 1.2 million bales from 2021-22 to 28 million bales.

Other important cotton-producing countries will face a decline, with Pakistan’s yield expected to fall 13 percent (800,000 bales) for the 2022-23 season down to 5.2 million bales as a result of damage from the floods in the country earlier this year.

World cotton production in 2022-23 is projected at 118.1 million bales, 2.5 million bales (2 percent) higher than 2021-22, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in October, as both area and yield increase. The U.S. is facing its own shortfall due to prolonged drought conditions in West Texas.

“The production gain is largely attributable to India, Brazil and China, with offsets from the United States and Pakistan. World cotton trade is projected to rise slightly this season despite global economic uncertainties that are forecast to reduce global mill use. With production expected to exceed mill use in 2022-23. Global ending stocks and the stocks-to-use ratio are forecast to increase to their highest levels in three years,” the USDA said in October.