India may topple China in cotton production


India may overtake China as the world's largest cotton producer by 2015 with the advantage of increased adoption of hybrid seeds and expected launch of newer biotechnology traits in cotton in the coming years.

China's cotton output is estimated at 45 million bales (170 kg each) in 2010-11. Production in India, the world's second biggest producer, is pegged at 33.9 million bales.

"We see India's cotton production to surpass China by 2015 based on the growth trend in last one decade," global non-profit body ISAAA National Coordinator Bhagirath Choudhary told reporters here.

Much of the boost to output is expected to come from newer biotechnology traits in cotton like increased tolerance to herbicides, some of which are due for the commercial release this year, he said.

For instance, Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex (BGII-RRF) is being developed by Mahyco for insect resistance and herbicide tolerant in cotton, is near to completion of government's regulatory approvals and likely to be released in the market this year, he added.

"The BGII-RRF will help increase cotton yield by 15 per cent," Choudhary said.

The growth in acreage under Bt Cotton has almost saturated and India's Bt Cotton area would vary between 80-90 per cent of the total cotton area, he said.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), India planted Bt cotton in 86 per cent of the total cotton area last year, while China sowed in only 69 per cent of the total area.

India's cotton growth has had spill over effect on neighbouring countries Pakistan and Bangldesh, who have also gone for Bt cotton seeds, it said.

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