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Rise in Indian cotton imports likely with falling domestic production

India's cotton imports may jump 80 per cent from a year ago. Production could fall to the lowest level in nine years due to low rainfall in key growing regions. Since production is not sufficient to fulfil local consumption from March onward imports are expected to pick up.

Due to the dry weather farmers were forced to uproot plants early. They couldn't go for third or fourth pickings. Rains in Gujarat and Maharashtra, which account for more than half of India's cotton production, were nearly a quarter below normal during the June-September monsoon season in 2018.

Indian farmers have adopted genetically-modified seeds that are resistant to boll worms but that hasn't stopped infestations. India is likely to produce 33 million bales in the current season. Last year's output was 36.5 million bales.

The drop in output is likely to lead to lower cotton shipments from India. India's exports could fall 27.5 per cent from a year ago, the lowest level in a decade. The drop in Indian supplies could help rivals such as the United States, Brazil and Australia increase exports to key Asian buyers such as China, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Higher imports by the world's biggest cotton producer could support global prices, trading near their lowest in more than a year.