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May 06, 2009

Egypt's cotton production to fall as farmers diversify

Egypt’s cotton production may plunge 17 percent in the year that begins in August as farmers grow more profitable crops such as corn and rice, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service said.

Output will drop to 400,000 bales from a revised 483,000 bales in the current marketing year, according to a report prepared by Julio Maldonado and Sherif Sherif and posted on the USDA Web site on May 1. Farmers will harvest 110,000 hectares (271,815 acres), down from 133,000 hectares, the report said.

Exports in the season ending July 31 will tumble 84 percent to 100,000 bales from a year earlier as the global recession hurts demand from the textile industry, Maldonado and Sherif said. Competition from shorter staple cotton also will reduce demand for Egypt’s extra-long staple fiber, which is stronger and softer, they said. Shipments probably will rebound next year to about 150,000 bales, according to the report.

The North African nation is expected to import 420,000 bales this year, up 7.7 percent from a year earlier, Maldonado and Sherif said. Imports in the new crop year will reach 450,000 bales, they said.

Cotton futures for July delivery were little changed today at 57.22 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. The price has declined 18 percent in the past year as global consumption dwindled.


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