US officials see Uzbek cotton exports at record low

US officials see Uzbek cotton exports at record low

Uzbek cotton exports will fall to record lows, thanks to lower plantings and rising domestic usage, US officials said

The US Department of Agriculture’s bureau in Tashkent saw Uzbekistani cotton exports in 2016-17 at 2.39m 480-pound bales.

This is above the USDA’s official forecast for Uzbek exports, but some 360,000 bales behind the Tashkent bureau’s earlier estimates, and the lowest level on records going back to 1960.

Falling production

The bureau saw 2016-17 cotton production at 4.08 million bales, about 200000 bales below its earlier estimates. “A warmer than usual winter, lack of water, pest problems and replanting all caused a lower than expected crop,” the bureau said. Planted area was reduced by 30500 hectares, to 1.26 million hectares, due to a shift in government policy. “In 2016-17, the government of Uzbekistan lowered cotton planting area to open up fields for vegetable and fruit production, especially in areas where water is scare and cotton yields are low,” the bureau said.

The government intends to reduce cotton planted area by a total of 170500 hectares over the next five years, although the bureau expects production to be resilient thanks to improving agronomy.

Rising consumption

Higher cotton consumption was also seen reducing exports. The bureau saw Uzbek cotton consumption at 1.84 million bales, some 200000 bales above earlier estimates.  “Domestic cotton consumption is increasing year-by-year with new textile investments,” the bureau said. “The Uzbek government is encouraging new partnerships to increase the domestic use of cotton. Many new textile investments have been approved which will increase domestic consumption gradually in the coming years.”

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