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Pakistan’s Cotton Crop Falls to Lowest Level Since 1998

Tiny pests have caused a big problem in Pakistan.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) monthly “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimatesreport, published Tuesday, projected that “more extensive whitefly damage than previously expected” will result in cotton production levels for 2015/16 falling by 800,000 bales from 8 million to 7.2 million—an 18-year low.

These numbers jive with the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), which recently said that increased pressure from whitefly and pink bollworm as well as less-than-favorable weather conditions would cause Pakistan’s average annual yield to fall by 22 percent to 637 kilograms per hectare.

Globally, the USDA projected that production will plunge by more than 2 million bales to 101.6 million bales in January, compared with December, based on updated harvest reports from Pakistan, China, India and Turkmenistan, and consumption will be cut by 450,000 bales to 110.9 million bales.

World imports, meanwhile, are expected to grow by 725,000 bales this month—mostly thanks to Pakistan, which USDA said will import 2.7 million bales, up from 2 million bales.

Elsewhere, U.S. cotton import and export levels look set to remain unchanged in January and its production yield is projected to slip from 13 million bales to almost 12.9 million bales.