With the U.S. and China both reporting double-digit acre reductions in cotton for 2015/16, India is expected to take the crown as the world’s No. 1 cotton producer, according to the USDA.
Together, China and India produce more than half of the world’s cotton. India’s share of production could rise to 26.5%, with a crop forecast at 29.5 million bales.
India’s “cotton climb” has been steady for the past decade. It surpassed the United States as the No. 2 cotton producer in the world in 2006. China has held the No. 1 title since 1982.
According to the USDA, China’s rising wages and increasing production costs can at least partly explain that country’s decline, while in India, rapid adoption of biotechnology has largely fueled that country’s growth. Denise Dewar, executive director, plant biotechnology at CropLife International, says when India approved Bt cotton in 2002, it was a net importer of the commodity, but today’s landscape is rapidly different due to that decision.
“Anywhere the technology has been introduced, farmers have really run with it,” she says.
Rounding out the top five in world cotton production are Pakistan and Brazil. The top five countries produce about 80% of the world’s cotton.