Cotton production faces menace

By: Nigar Orujova

While the world is hung up on ‘black gold’, the production of ‘white gold’, or cotton, is falling around the world, and Azerbaijan is no exception.

Cotton production is not the easiest operation, and despite the heavy demand, production has been negatively impacted by the falling prices on the world market.

Once a very productive industry in Azerbaijan, cotton production is now suffering setbacks. Over the past 18 years, production has dipped sixfold in the country. Moreover, the amount of land allocated to growing cotton has fallen ninefold. Domestic economy experts have not ruled out the possibility that the country will stop planting cotton in the near future.

More than 14,000 tons of cotton were collected in January-September this year in Azerbaijan. Last year, the country produced 41,000 tons of cotton, while 15 years ago, production was at 91,500 tons, a drop from the 542,900 tons yielded in 1990.

Azerbaijan will completely stop planting cotton in the near future as domestic cotton has been displaced from the global cotton market, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Research Center Nariman Agayev told the local press.

“The volume of cotton produced drops significantly from year to year in Azerbaijan. Very few domestic cotton–purchasing companies remain. Recent developments in the global economy have also negatively affected the growth and sale of ‘white gold’,” he said.

The expert added that at present, a kilo of cotton can be purchased for less than 40 qepik (US$0.38).

Exporting countries have created an artificial market with low prices, which has hampered opportunities for selling Azerbaijani cotton, he stressed.

Currently, the United States, India, and Pakistan are leaders in exporting cotton, while China is a major producer of the crop.

As a result, buyers of Azerbaijani cotton are forced to break their contracts, and farmers are now switching to other crops, Agayev noted.

However, the country is still trying to compete for its place in the sun. The government is continuing to support farmers who are planting cotton. At present, Azerbaijani scientists are working on creating more productive and resistant strains of cotton.

Meanwhile, agricultural experts claim the reduction in interest in cotton is the result of falling cotton prices on the world market and the subsequently low profit margin. Moreover, the growing use of artificial materials worldwide has negatively affected the cotton-production sector.

To buck this trend, Azerbaijan has started using more efficient technology and cotton varieties, which has resulted in increased yields.

Experts believe it is necessary to apply new technologies, minerals, and varieties of cotton to lower the cost of production in the country. This would make Azerbaijani cotton more competitive on the world market.


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