Ahmedabad, Oct 20 After dropping to a 14-year low last year, India’s cotton crop is projected at 344 lakh bales for the season starting October 1, 2022, higher by 36.95 lakh bales on last year’s crop size.

The cotton trade body, Cotton Association of India (CAI), announced its first estimate for 2022-23 (October-September period) following the committee meeting held on October 15. The crop estimate arrived at a time when raw cotton (kapas) prices hovered at around Rs 9,000 per quintal, and spot rates for ginned cotton 29 mm variety stood at Rs 68,700 per quintal.

Cotton output in Gujarat, the largest growing state, is estimated at 91 lakh bales, against 76.30 lakh bales estimated last year.

At CAI's Centenary Celebrations in Mumbai on October 18, Atul Ganatra, President, CAI, said India's cotton crop for the 2022-23 season is estimated at 344 lakh bales. "This year so far, sowing has been completed on 128.35 lakh hectares, which is about 10 lakh hectares more than last year," he said.

Considering last year's carryover stock of 31.89 lakh bales, estimated imports of about 12 lakh bales and the 344 lakh bales of crop, total cotton availability in the country would be at 387.89 lakh bales for the year, which is about 5 lakh bales lower than that last year.

The CAI has estimated mill consumption to increase marginally to 295 lakh bales (293 lakh bales), while consumption by small-scale units is projected at 19 lakh bales (16 lakh bales) and non-mill consumption at a steady 6 lakh bales, taking the total estimated consumption to 320 lakh bales, (318 lakh bales). The available surplus is projected at 67.89 lakh bales (74.89 lakh bales).

According to the CAI estimates, exports for the year are projected lower by about eight lakh bales or about 20 per cent at 35 lakh bales as against 43 lakh bales. The closing stock for the season is projected at 32.89 lakh bales (31.89 lakh bales) for the year.

Output is expected to dip in Punjab and Tamil Nadu, whereas it is expected to be higher in other states, besides Gujarat. Among the large growers, Maharashtra (84.5 lakh bales), Telangana (45 lakh bales), Rajasthan (28.5 lakh bales), Karnataka (25 lakh bales), Haryana (16.5 lakh bales) and Andhra Pradesh (16 lakh bales) have indicated a growth in output. The cotton crop in Madhya Pradesh is estimated to be steady at 20 lakh bales.