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  • Production trends

    Chapter 1 - The world cotton market - Overview 


    Cotton is produced in about a hundred countries, but production has traditionally concentrated in a few (see figure 1.4). Over the last three decades, the four leading producing countries have accounted for an increasing share of world production. China, the United States, India and Pakistan accounted for 48% of world production in 1970/71 and 72% in 2006/07. The share of industrialized countries (the United States, Australia, Spain and Greece) was little changed at 19% of world production in 1980/81 and 21% in 2006/07. Developing countries accounted for 61% of world production in 1980/81 and 72% in 2006/07. Cotton production in the former Soviet Union declined during the last two decades, accounting for 19% of world production in 1980/81 and 7% in 2006/07.

    Production in China, the largest producer, increased at an average annual rate of 5% during the 1980s and fluctuated within a range of 3.7 to 5.7 million tons during the 1990s. Production in China rose to a record of 6.3 million tons in 2004/05 and is forecast to reach a new record of 6.7 million tons in 2006/07 (see figure 1.5).

    Source: ICAC

    Source: ICAC

    In the United States, cotton production increased from 2.4 million tons in 1980/81 to 3.3 million tons in 1990/91, and fluctuated between 3 and 4.3 million tons during the 1990s before rising to 5.2 million in 2005/06. United States production was 4.7 million tons in 2006/07 because of reduced rain.

    Cotton production in India rose from 1.3 million tons in 1980/81 to 3.0 million tons in 1996/97. Thereafter, production fell to 2.3 million tons in 2002/03 before reaching a record of 4.6 million tons in 2006/07. India has rapidly adopted biotech cotton varieties since 2002, and this seems to be contributing to rising yields.

    Production in Pakistan expanded rapidly during the 1980s, growing from 700,000 tons in 1980/81 to 2.2 million tons in 1991/92. However, production fell in 1992/93 and remained below the 1991/92 level until 2004/05 when production rose to 2.5 million tons. Difficulties combating disease are again resulting in lower production, forecast at 2.1 million tons in 2006/07.

    Cotton production in Brazil declined rapidly between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s because of structural changes in favour of soybeans and because of infestation from the cotton boll weevil. Brazilian production recovered in the second half of the 1990s as production shifted to the centre of the country, where cotton had not previously been grown. Production, which declined from 965,000 tons in 1984/85 to 310,000 tons in 1996/97, climbed back to 940,000 tons in 2000/01 and to 1.3 million tons in 2004/05, surpassing Uzbekistan and Turkey. Production in 2006/07 is estimated at 1.4 million tons.

    Cotton production in Turkey increased from 650,000 tons in 1990/91 to 850,000 tons in 2006/07. Cotton production in Australia increased very rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s, from 100,000 tons in 1980/81 to 800,000 tons in 2000/01. Because of drought, production was only 250,000 tons in 2006/07. Cotton production in the European Union (EU) increased from 300,000 tons in 1990/91 to 500,000 tons in 2004/05. A combination of weather and changes in cotton policies in the EU led to a reduction in output to an estimated 370,000 tons in 2006/07.