For 25 years, major increases in cotton yields were commonplace, nearly doubling the amount of fiber produced per hectare and providing a significant boost to farmer incomes. But the trend that began in the 1980s has not only slowed in the last few years, but taken a small step backward, according to terry Townsend, executive director of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).
“In round numbers, the world cotton yield rose from 400 kilograms of lint per hectare in the 1980s to 600 kilograms in the 1990s and to nearly 800 kilograms by 2007/08,” he told Cotton International. “However, the world yield had trended lower since 2007/08 and is estimated at only 760 kilograms per hectare in 2012/13.”
It isn’t that new technologies aren’t being developed, he adds, but rather, that they are finding their way to the market very slowly.
To address this issue, ICAC has dedicated the Fifth Open Session of its 72nd Plenary Meeting to the topic. Scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 4 in Cartagena, Colombia, the theme of this year’s meeting is “Emergent Challenges Facing the Cotton Value Chain,” making it the perfect venue for discussing the reasons for dropping yields.
“Agriculture, including cotton, seems to be entering an era of technology consolidation during which new, breakthrough technologies are being developed but have not yet reached the stage of commercial application,” Townsend says. “The Fifth Open Session will be a technical seminar focusing on the topic of ‘Overcoming Stagnation in Cotton Yields.’”
For more information and to register for the event, please visit ICAC’s Web site: www.icac.org.