Chinas Xinjiang province is to reduce its total cotton farming area in 2015

China's Xinjiang province is to reduce its total cotton farming area in 2015

A China-based cotton expert has predicted that Chinese clothing and textile producers will be forced to import more cotton after the government of Xinjiang province decided to reduce its total cotton farming area in 2015.

A communiqué from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Agricultural Bureau said it wanted to reduce north-west China region’s total cotton farming area to 300 hectares, down 17.5% on 2014.

The notice requires local authorities to guide farmers in this key cotton production region "to retreat from cotton farming" on land deemed of secondary importance to production, encouraging a switch to more profitable crops such as fruits.

Ye Wuwei, who consults on cotton policies for China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), noted this could push more Chinese textile companies to import cotton. He added: "Currently the cotton price at Xinjiang is at CNY19,800 [US$3,182] per tonne, which is higher than the national price of, say, the cotton from America, which is CNY14,000 [US$2,250] per tonne."

Ye, a researcher at the Institute of Cotton Research at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and a member of the International Cotton Genome Initiative (ICGI), explained that the government is concerned about the environmental and economic impact of promoting cotton production across Xinjiang.

This is because soil quality differs in the east, south and north of Xinjiang. The soil in the south is more suited for food crops, and cotton has been depleting groundwater, hence it is a key focus of the regional government’s call for farmers to abandon cotton. Ye forecast that the cotton farming area of Xinjiang will actually decrease by 10% as a result of the new policy.