World Cotton Demand Expected to Soar in Next Decade

Researchers predict cotton demand to jump 50 percent in next decade due to China's growing needs.

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Researchers predict higher yields will result in a doubling of cotton production by India to meet Chinese demand in the next decade.

Researchers in the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences are predicting world cotton demand will jump a robust 50 percent in the next decade, most of which will come from China. The work, led by researchers with Texas Tech's Cotton Economics Research Institute, is described in the recent release of the group's annual world cotton outlook. Economists say China is poised for a consumer products revolution. Despite being the globe's largest cotton producer, importer and textile miller, China residents use relatively few cotton products compared with Western nations. The average Chinese resident uses about 4.4 pounds of cotton annually, compared to 35 pounds in countries like the United States. That leaves plenty of room for growth inside China's untapped consumer frontier and emerging middle class.

Looking Ahead

In the coming years, Chinese yields are only expected to climb 1 percent a year. Indeed, researchers expect the amount of Chinese cotton acreage to dip over the next few years. As a result, China will need to buy cotton on the world market to meet its growing needs. Today, China imports 14.4 million bales. In 10 years, that number is expected to rise to 28.7 million bales. Unfortunately, it is not likely that the United States will fill this production shortage. Competition from other crops, specifically those related to rising bio-fuel production, will push U.S. cotton acreage downward at least for a few years.
Samarendu Mohanty's research indicates India will more than double its cotton production during the next decade.

Samarendu Mohanty is an agricultural economist and associate director of the Cotton Economics Research Institute.

"There's no doubt that U.S. cotton area will decrease," said Samarendu Mohanty, agricultural economist and associate director of the institute. "Unless prices for crops like corn and soybeans drop drastically." The research is based on the Texas Tech World Fiber Model, a long-term series of projections founded on assumptions of normal weather patterns and current trade policies, along with stable economic fundamentals such as population and income growth, and prices for crops that would compete with cotton. While the U.S. is projected to remain the world's leading cotton exporter in the next decade, India is projected to more than double its cotton production during the next decade. In 2003, India was a net importer of cotton despite having the world's largest planting acreage. While the nation might have planted a lot of cotton, it had one of the world's lowest yields per acre. Four years later, India's cotton yields have soared, thanks largely to the introduction of Bt cotton. Bt crops have been genetically altered to produce toxins that kill some insects. The toxins are produced in nature by the widespread bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, hence the abbreviation Bt. "India's cotton yield has increased by more than 90 percent in the past few years," Mohanty said. "That's huge." Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing, (806) 742-2136. Photos by Norman Martin. Web layout by Kristina Woods Butler.
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The college also consists of eleven research centers and institutes, including the Cotton Economics Research Institute, the International Cotton Research Center and the International Textile Center.

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The College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences is made up of six departments:

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The College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences is made up of six departments

The College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences is made up of six departments:

  • Agriculture and Applied Economics
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  • Animal and Food Science
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Plant and Soil Science
  • Natural Resources Management

The college also consists of eleven research centers and institutes, including the Cotton Economics Research Institute, the International Cotton Research Center and the International Textile Center.

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Texas International Cotton School announces summer course

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