Cotton South Africa Sees 2015-16 Harvest Declining Almost 50%

  • Farmers switching to more profitable crops, including corn
  • Drought in Southern Africa led to increase in corn prices

South Africa will produce almost 50 percent less cotton this year than in the previous season after farmers switched to more profitable crops such as corn, according to Cotton South Africa.

The nation will probably produce 48,262 bales of cotton in the 2015-16 season, including an estimated 600 bales from Swaziland, a tiny monarchy surrounded by South Africa, the industry body said in an e-mailed report on Thursday. Last year, the country saw the lowest amount of rainfall since records started in 1904, raising corn prices and prompting farmers to switch to more profitable crops.

“Cotton competes with other summer crops like maize and sunflowers, so if the farmer feels he can get a better return on those other crops, then he would rather plant that,” Koot Louw, an official at Pretoria-based Cotton South Africa, said by phone. “Farmers planted less because of the drought.” Maize is the local term for corn.

Global cotton consumption is expected to decline 3 percent in 2016-17 because of weaker demand and low polyester prices, Cotton South Africa said, citing the International Cotton Advisory Committee. Global production could increase 4 percent in that period due to improved yields in India, the world’s largest producer.

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