Increasing China's Cotton Production
National emphasis on cotton has not changed.
August 20, 2009
Since China joined the WTO, its textile industry has given full play to its comparative advantages.
However, since 2008, due to the impact of the international financial crisis, with textile demand low and the cotton market being depressed, cotton production has declined. Now, stabilization of cotton production is one of our important tasks.
In 2008, China’s textile exports amounted to $185.2 billion (US). But in February, textile exports showed a negative growth with a decline of $6.68 billion (US).
Meanwhile, as the international petroleum price fell, so did the price of chemical fibers. Currently, the price difference between polyester and cotton fiber in China has exceeded RMB 4,100 Yuan per ton and the substitution of cotton with polyester has obviously been enhanced.
According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), last September global cotton consumption was 26.25 million tons – a decrease of 300,000 tons on a year-to-year basis. According to its forecast this May, it will drop to 22.87 million tons, with a year-to-year basis drop of 3.41 million tons.
Cotton production cost has increased, the price of cotton has dropped and the benefits to China’s cotton farmers have been sharply reduced. During the last production period, prices of production materials such as seeds, fertilizer and labor have increased. With the falling prices and increasing production costs, the income of cotton farmers been reduced by more than 500 Yuan per mu last year.
With the enthusiasm of cotton farmers declining, the reduction of cotton area has been a foregone conclusion.
Meanwhile, we should also observe that the important position of the cotton industry has not changed:
• Currently cotton is still the main source of income increases of farmers in the production region and the supporting industry for development of regional economies.
• The pattern of inadequate cotton production for demand has not been changed. The cotton textile industry has slowed in growth, but the comparative advantage of the Chinese industry still exists and the annual demand will remain relatively high.
• National stress on cotton has not changed. Since last year, the State has further strengthened the macro control and support. The volume of acquisition and reserve reached 2.72 million tons.
• This year, the State allocated a subsidy fund of 1.3 billion Yuan for protecting and deploying the enthusiasm of farmers and stabilizing crop production.
• The focus on cotton has not changed. This year the Ministry of Agriculture actuated a program to create high-yield cotton, and will provide technical support for the sustainable development of cotton production.
To stabilize cotton production this year, it is crucial to increase the unit yield of cotton, save cost and increase benefits by carrying out the subsidy policy for improved varieties to promote the increase in plantation area.
High-yield creation is a new approach for the development of cotton production in the current stage as well as a strategic choice. High cotton production cost is a prominent problem. The prime target of the high-yield establishment will be to reduce cost, increase benefits and stabilize the return for cotton farmers.
In the region with serious cotton blight and verticillium wilt, it is crucial to promote the disease-resistant varieties and carryout the treatment of seed. As for such major pests as leaf bug, whitefly, thrips, etc., we must energetically stress the governance and practically increase the prevention and control efficiency by 10%.
Because cotton production deploys more labor and a low level of production techniques, we must energetically promote a number of comparatively developed and simplified cultivation technologies such as non-tilling and chemical control.
In a long-term view, to stabilize cotton:
• Energetically push forward the implementation of advantageous regional planning.
• Speed up the selection of breakthrough varieties.
• Push forward the professional governance of diseases and pests.
• Enhance the study and application of convenient and simplified cultivation technologies.
• And cultivate specialized cooperative organizations of cotton farmers.
Add photo to caption:
Madame Ma Shuping
Address of Madame Ma Shuping, Deputy Director-General, Department of Crop Farming, Ministry of Agriculture.