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Cotton cultivation, shrinking
Jan '08
2007 was a prolific year for the textiles and garment industry of Vietnam. The textiles industry recorded highest exports in Vietnam by registering a growth of 32 percent. But this came with a price. Net imports of raw materials for the textile industry were US $5.3 billion against exports of $7.7 billion.

One of the biggest constituents in the imports basket was cotton. The main reason being that only one percent of the industry's requirement of cotton is met through domestic production. The rest of the requirement of 200,000 tons has to be imported. The country spent $1.0 billion for procuring cotton and fibres last year.

The chief reason for such high cotton imports is the reducing acreage under the cultivation of this crop. The cotton acreage has been reduced to 6,000 hectares and producing only 2,600 tons. The area under cultivation has been steadily reducing except for the year 2002-03 when it reached a record high of 32,000 hectares.

The cotton development programme of 2001-2010 had envisaged a plan to expand cultivation acreage to 150,000 hectares to produce 80,000 tons, so as to meet 50 percent of the industry's requirements. Nevertheless, in effect the acreage has reduced drastically.

The main reasons being citied are the farmer's preference for cash crops like soybean and maize which provide higher economic returns. Besides, the impact of adverse weather conditions and low economic efficiency are also rapidly hampering the industry. On average, Vietnamese cotton varieties have a low yield of approximately 1-2 tons per hectares.

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