Greek Cotton Acreage Projection
The 2009/10 year shows a continued decline in Greek cotton acres.
May 14, 2009
Like most cotton producing countries, Greece is facing declining cotton acreage due to high production cost and low cotton prices. Just to give a more precise view of the shrinking production, our crop has been reduced by about 50% from the highest levels of planting in the years 1999 – 2002 (approximately 440,000 tons of lint has been eliminated).
Even though cotton cultivation has been falling on a yearly basis, it is still considered to be a critical and pressing issue for many domestic cotton farmers. Overall cotton acreage covers about 7.28% of our total Greek cultivated areas, and during 2008, according to the ministry of Agriculture, the cotton hectares (He) were 273,500. Actually, the so called “realistic” (professionally cultivated) acreage was a bit lower, reaching only 245,000 He.
A Look at the Acreage
Regarding the coming Regarding the coming crop for 2009/10, it is still too early to make an accurate calculation on how much cotton acreage will be lost; however, we can make some projections combining several trustworthy sources from our cotton industry. As we approach the new season’s plantings, it gets more obvious that cotton cultivation will further shrink by about 20% to 22%, meaning the total will hardly reach 200,000 he. The biggest drop is predicted in the Thessaly area (reductions are reported to be at 25% to 30%) and especially in Karditsa and Farsala. Macedonian cotton fields will be reduced by 15% while Thrace will be the least affected area. In Southern cotton areas like Levadia, we experienced the hardest drop last season; therefore, we expect a small decline of 10% to15% in the coming season.
In all cases, the main reason reported for changing crops is the high production cost of cotton. Production cost increases, combined with cotton price decreases, have forced our producers to plant wheat. Cotton farmers are very much disappointed in this current season since they planted their crop with last year’s production cost (which included very high prices for both oil and fertilizers) and sold their seed cotton between November and December of last year when cotton was priced at very low levels.
The Good News
Despite these seemingly pessimistic facts about our production levels, there is some news that looks promising. The Greek ginner’s association has made some proposals to the ministry of Agriculture that are aimed to target more professional cultivation and will most probably be in force in the coming season. These proposals are referring to the coupled subsidy and are strongly attempting to commit the grower to his cultivation.
To be more specific, cotton growers will be obliged to use a minimum of 15 kgs/He certified cotton seed, which also sets a required, lowest amount of cotton plants per hectare. In addition, in order for farmers to receive the coupled subsidy, they will have to harvest a minimum yield per hectare that will force growers to look after their fields. This minimum yield per area should not be 30% lower than the yields in the 2004/05 crop.
Under these circumstances farmers will have to use some fertilizers and they will definitely be forced to irrigate their fields correctly otherwise they will not be eligible to receive the coupled subsidy.
Yiannis Papadogiannis is with Hecot S.A.