South Africa has cut its 2015-16 cotton production forecast by about five per cent, bringing the total drop in full year output to an estimated 44 per cent as farmers switch to more profitable corn crops in a drought period. Farmers who irrigate their land opted to plant maize, because of the good maize price. That was why there was such a big drop from last year.
Maize is the local term for corn. The country’s agriculture sector contracted an annualized 14 per cent in the final quarter of 2015 amid the worst drought in a century and the commodity price rout. South Africa will probably produce 52,820 bales of cotton in the 2015-16 season while an estimated 900 bales will come from Swaziland.
The expectation for lower cotton output follows the trend in global production, which is on track to decline 15 per cent this season due to falling yields. Going forward, crop plantings may increase depending on the weather.
South Africa is working to revitalise its cotton textile and apparel industry, which has been damaged by the availability of inexpensive imported clothing, by focusing on sustainability.
The idea started with cotton farmers, who felt an urgent need to revive and expand employment opportunities through farming, and they thought that a focus on environmental and social responsibility would be a good way to rebuild.